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AMERICANS -BY ADOPTION 



AMERICANS 

BY ADOPTION 

BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES OF 

GREAT CITIZENS BORN IN 

FOREIGN LANDS 

BY JOSEPH HUSBAND 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

WILLIAM ALLAN NEILSON 

PRESIDENT OF SMITH COLLEGE 




ILLUSTRATED 



BOSTON 

LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 
1930 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, INC. 



All nghts reserved 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS PUBLICATIONS 

ARE PUBLISHED BY 
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 

IN ASSOCIATION WITH 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY 



*-n 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



To 
EBWA2U) F. SANDERSON 



CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION, BY WILLIAM ALLAN NEILSON . . . XL 

I. STEPHEN GIRARD . * I 

II. JOHN ERICSSON 17 

III. * Louis AGASSIZ 37 

IV. CARL SCHURZ 5 6 

V. THEODORE THOMAS . . 74 

VI. ANDREW CARNEGIE ......*.. 9 1 

VII. JAMES J. HILL . 104 

VIII. AUGUSTUS SAINT~GAUDENS 121 

IX. JACOB A. RIIS * .... 140 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Louis AGASSIZ, ,....,... Frontispiece 

STEPHEN GIRARD 6 

JOHN ERICSSON , . 18 

CARL SCHURZ 56 

THEODORE THOMAS 74 

ANDREW CARNEGIE 92 

JAMES J. HILL 104 

AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 122 

JACOB A. RIIS * * . 140 



INTRODUCTION 

THERE is an old story, told In many countries 
through the Middle Ages, of a knight who got into 
trouble, and was offered pardon if within a year he 
brought the correct answer to the question, "What 
do women most desire?" At the last moment he 
saved himself by answering, "Their own way," or 
words to that effect. 

This is a man's story, and scores the man's point in 
the perennial strife of wits between the sexes; but the 
answer needs but little modification to hold good of 
men and women alike. When one takes up a book 
like this, dealing with the lives of men who deliber 
ately and voluntarily left the homes of their fathers to 
become citizens of a strange land, one naturally asks 
what they wanted, and equally naturally goes on to 
ask what men in general want most in life. 

Many answers have been given to the question, 
and none can be final, because men and circumstances 
differ so widely. But I should like to propose one that 
seems to me of more general application than most. 
Men want most to count among their fellows for 
what they are worth. This desire is more persistent 
than love, more universal than the thirst for wealth 
or power, more fundamental than the demand for 
pleasure. It shows itself in early childhood, it steers 
the ambitions of manhood, its fulfillment is the crown 
of old age. The degree of the chance to achieve it is 



xii AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the measure of the desirability of a country as a place 
to live in; and it is fair to say that the men whose lives 
are told in this book, and we others who have come 
to America of our own accord, have done so because 
we believed that these United States, above all 
countries of the world, give men this chance to make 
the most of themselves. 

"To count among their fellows for what they are 
worth " see what this implies. First, and most 
superficially, it means recognition of ability and 
character by society. Carried to the highest point, it 
would mean the absence of handicaps, of privilege, of 
"pull" the equality of opportunity for achieving 
distinction which has always been the theory of this 
democracy. Of course, neither here nor elsewhere is 
this perfect condition reached; but the biographies in 
this book tend to show that there has long been a large 
degree of it here, and our social progress has this con 
dition frankly accepted as a goal. 

Secondly, it implies a basis for self-respect. Deeper 
than the grudge that a man has against the society 
which refuses him due credit for his achievement is the 
grudge that a man feels when he has to admit to him 
self that his achievement Is not really creditable. 
The worst curse of slavery was not its external re 
strictions, but its effect in crushing the slave's sense 
of the potential nobility of his own soul. The feeling 
that a man has a fair chance to be taken at his full 
value is an exhilarating feeling, liberating his powers, 
freeing him from the gnawing pains of mortified 
vanity, impelling him to hold his head up and look 
his neighbor in the eye. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

Thirdly, it means a chance to do one's job one's 
own job and to do it to the limit of one's capacity. 
This is the foundation on which both recognition and 
self-respect must be built. "Blessed is the man," 
says Carlyle, "who has found his work; let him seek 
no other blessedness." Because a man is freer in 
America to pass from one calling to another, from one 
class to another, from one region to another; because 
here people are willing to be shown what he can do; 
the chances are greater than elsewhere that he will find 
the task and circumstances which fit him best and let 
him count for most. 

If you read through these nine lives, you will see 
that what each of these men was really after, and 
what each found more fully here than in the old world, 
was not wealth or power or pleasure of the senses, but 
the chance to do the biggest job of which he was 
capable. Three of them, indeed, did gather great 
wealth, but it was either a by-product of the main 
achievement of their lives, or the instrument of that 
achievement. The vision that inspired James J. Hill 
was not a colossal fortune, but the opening up and 
populating of a great territory with farmers leading 
large, wholesome, and prosperous lives. Two of the 
nine were artists, who neither asked nor received great 
financial rewards, but who found here the chance to 
create beauty and to form taste, and in seizing this 
chance they found their supreme satisfaction* 

Of these nine men I have known only one, Augustus 
Saint-Gaudens; but none could have illustrated better 
the spirit in which work has to be done if it is to yield 



xiv AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

its greatest reward. What struck me in watching 
Saint-Gaudens work was his absolute indifference to 
what a statue would cost him in pains or in time, or to 
what it would bring him in money, and his complete 
absorption in making it as nearly perfect as he could. 
He did not "count the mortal years it takes to mould 
the immortal forms." He would work for hours on the 
modeling of an inch of surface, seeking for an exact 
ness of result imperceptible to the lay bystander. 
He would never be hurried and he found America 
willing to wait. 

The same spirit worked in Ericsson in his inven 
tions, in Carl Schurz in his unceasing quest for 
political justice, in Riis in his cleaning up of New 
York City. Some of these men were not outstanding 
intellects, but each cared intensely about his job, and 
to each America gave his chance. 

I have a quarrel with the title of this book. "Amer 
icans by Choice " it should be, not "Americans by 
Adoption." "Adoption" suggests that America 
adopt us. We who have of our own accord left the 
old world and taken up citizenship in the new know 
that we have chosen her, not she us. We can leave to 
the native-born their natural pride in their birth 
right, but we can claim that we pay a greater com 
pliment to this land than can these others, for our 
citizenship is not the result of an accident but of our 
free choice. And we have paid our price. We, and we 
alone, know what it has cost to leave behind scenes 
and traditions and affections which clung close to the 
heart. But that we have left them is proof that we 



INTRODUCTION xv 

prized still more highly the opportunity that America 
offered us to count for what we are worth. 

In the face of this proof we have no apologies to 
make. We call our nine worthies to witness; and, 
while not forgetting our due of gratitude for our 
chance, we point to the use we make of the chance, 
and ask the native-born to acknowledge that the 
balance swings level. More than this we cannot ask; 
less than this we will not take. Granted this, without 
grudging and without condescension, we can quiet 
all fears of divided allegiance, and work with our 
fellow citizens for the perfecting of the social order in 
which these wise and worthy men found an environ 
ment for accomplishment of the first rank, and with 
which we have thrown in our lot in becoming Amer 
icans by choice. 

W. A. NEILSON. 

NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS 



AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

i 

STEPHEN GIRARD 

Born in Bordeaux, France, 1750 
Died -in Philadelphia, 1831 

THE old French city of Bordeaux has for centuries 
been one of the greatest maritime cities of Europe. 
Situated on the low shore of the River Garonne, its 
stone quays have for generations been close-packed 
with the ships of a world-wide commerce. Under the 
Roman Empire it was a flourishing city; in the fourth 
century, surrounded by massive walls and lofty tow 
ers, it became the capital of Aquitania Secunda; and 
later, for three hundred years, it was ruled by English 
kings. Here reigned Edward, the Black Prince, and 
here was born his son Richard. Between the Bordeaux 
merchants and the English an extensive commerce 
developed, and as years passed by, this commerce 
branched out into a world-activity that to-day main 
tains relations with all civilized lands, but chiefly, as 
has been the case for a century and a half, with Eng 
land, South America, the West Indies, and the United 
States. 

In the year 1750 the stone wharves along the river 
bristled with the masts and spars of the fleets of the 
Bordeaux merchants. Small ships they were com- 



2 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

pared with the great steel cargo-carriers that today 
line the stream; but they were staunchly built and 
strongly manned, and their rich cargoes, safely trans 
ported from the distant Indies, filled the city with 
wealth and the romance of blue salt water and foreign 
lands. 

In that same year, in a house in rue Ramonet au 
Chartrons, then a suburb of the city, was born 
Stephen Girard, son of Pierre Girard, Captain of the 
Port of Bordeaux. Pierre the father was a man of 
some importance and a prosperous merchant in the 
city. In 1744, during the War of the Austrian Succes 
sion, he had served with honor in the French navy, 
and at the blockade of Brest, he had received the 
Military Order of Saint Louis for his heroic action 
in putting out the flames on his ship, which had been , 
fired by a fire-ship sent into the French squadron by 
the British. In later years he became Burgess of Bor 
deaux, and during this period he began to trade with 
the French ports in the island of San Domingo in the 
West Indies. Of such stock was the boy Stephen; 
born with the romance of the sea as his inheritance 
and with the heroic memory of his father to inspire 
him, but born with a handicap which, however, he 
never permitted to retard his progress; for from birth 
he was sightless in his right eye. 

It was natural that the boy should turn to the sea. 
When he was twelve years old, the death of his mother 
left him a half-orphan. His education had been of the 
most general nature. There was little to draw him 
into the occupations of the land. To the lonesome lad 



STEPHEN GIRARD 3 

the sea offered at least the promise of adventure, and 
perhaps the rewards of wealth and distinction. In 
the year 1764 Stephen was fourteen. His father's 
trading activities with the West Indies afforded the 
opening he desired; and with his fewbelongings packed 
in a sea-chest, he shipped as cabin-boy on a small 
merchantman to Port-au-Prince. Five more voyages 
followed, and in 1773 he was licensed to act as "cap 
tain, master, or pilot of any merchant ship he could 
obtain." 

A year later as "officer of the ship" La Julie, he 
sailed from Bordeaux for Port-au-Prince. It was the 
final severance of his tie with France. The cargo con 
sisted chiefly of general merchandise, in which Stephen 
had purchased a small share, bought from Bordeaux 
merchants with notes, or promises to pay at some 
later date. But business was slow in the islands, and 
the goods sold at a loss of over twenty-five per cent. 
In those days a man might be imprisoned for debt, 
and Girard realized that such a fate might await him 
should he return to Bordeaux. Accordingly, he ob 
tained his discharge from the ship, and with a young 
acquaintance determined to form a partnership for 
the purpose of trading between the island ports. So 
with many who have sought freedom in the new world, 
cruel laws and the dread of an unjust imprisonment 
forced Girard to forsake his native land. But the 
just debt which he owed was not forgotten, and in 
later years the Bordeaux merchants, whose anger he 
had feared, received from him payment in full of the 
merchandise they had advanced him. 



4 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

In July, 1774, Girard sailed for New York with a 
small cargo of coffee and sugar. It was a stirring 
time in the history of the American Colonies. For a 
dozen years the free spirit of the Americans had 
chafed under the oppression of British rule. Open 
fighting had occurred in Boston in 1770, when, in a 
fight between the populace and the British soldiers, 
three men were killed and eight were wounded. Two 
years later the British revenue schooner Gaspee was 
seized and burned by the people of Rhode Island, and 
in 1773 the citizens of Boston, disguised as Indians, 
emptied into the water of Boston Harbor 342 chests 
of tea from an English merchantman, as a protest 
against taxation without representation in Parlia 
ment. In retaliation, acts obnoxious to the people of 
Massachusetts were passed by the British Govern 
ment; and in answer to these, on September 5, 1774, 
the Continental Congress was assembled at Philadel 
phia, and a declaration of rights was drawn up and 
published, defining the spirit of the American Colonies 
and indicating the consequences which must follow 
further interference with the liberty of the American 
people to levy their own taxes and make their own 
laws in their own Colonial assemblies. 

Backing words with deeds, the Colony of Massa 
chusetts set up its own government in defiance of 
General Gage, the British representative, and placed 
at its head John Hancock, an influential merchant of 
Boston, Twelve thousand volunteer militiamen were 
organized, of whom about one third were known as 
"minute men," or soldiers ready to march or fight at 



STEPHEN GIRARD 5 

a minute's notice, and stores and ammunition were 
collected. Into such a scene sailed the young French 
boy with his cargo of sugar and coffee; and it is not 
surprising that his liberty-loving spirit sympathized 
with the indomitable determination of the colonists 
to rid themselves of the yoke of an old-world nation, 
and led him to seek employment in New York City, 
with some merchants there who traded with San 
Domingo. 

First as mate and soon as captain, Girard steadily 
sailed back and forth between New York and the 
trading town of Le Cap in San Domingo. As captain 
of the little vessel, he was allowed by the owners the 
privilege of carrying a limited store of goods for his 
own venture, in addition to the regular cargo. His 
capital was small, but no opportunity to increase it 
was ever allowed to pass, and each voyage showed a 
steadily Increasing profit to the credit of the youthful 
trader. 

Meanwhile, in America, the fighting at Lexington 
and Concord had announced to the world the deter 
mination of the liberty-loving colonists to cast off 
British rule, and In 1775 the War of American Inde 
pendence was begun. But important as this war is in 
American eyes, it was but one of several difficulties 
which confronted Great Britain: three years later 
war was begun between that country and France, and 
In 1779 Spain also declared war on Great Britain; this 
was followed in 1780 by the declaration of war between 
Great Britain and Holland. 

Immediately all American shipping became subject 



6 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

to seizure by British vessels, and accordingly Girard 
availed himself of the neutrality of France and shifted 
to the protection of the French flag. But the dangers 
of the sea, increased by the hazards of war, were enor 
mous, and in 1776 Girard found himself practically 
shipwrecked off the Delaware coast. With difficulty 
he brought his ship to shore, and soon found him 
self in the little city of Philadelphia, which was des 
tined in after years to claim him as its foremost citizen. 

Philadelphia was a town of twenty-four thousand 
inhabitants. By slow-sailing packets its people kept 
uncertain contact with the news of the old-world 
cities; stage coach and post-rider kept them informed 
of home affairs. A few small newspapers reported 
the stirring events then occurring. But Girard was 
not particularly concerned with the struggle of the 
American Colonies. He was still a Frenchman trad 
ing with the West Indies, concerned only with his 
ships, his markets, and his fortune. Philadelphia 
seemed to him to be an enterprising and growing 
place, and accordingly he settled there. It was per 
haps the most important decision in his life. 

As he was forced by the presence of British war ves 
sels off the coast to abandon his trading ventures with 
the West Indies, Girard's activities were for two years 
limited to local affairs. During the blockade an event 
took place which gave him a real tie with the strug 
gling states: he married an American, Miss Mary 
Lum. In 1778 the British forces occupied Philadel 
phia and seized the Water Witch, the first vessel 
owned entirely by the enterprising Frenchman. 



STEPHEN GIRARD 7 

Philadelphia, however, was soon again in American 
hands, and the sea communication for foreign trade 
was restored. With the reopening of commerce Girard 
formed a partnership with his brother, who was now 
living at Le Cap, for the purpose of trading between 
Le Cap and Philadelphia. Salt, syrup, sugar, and 
coffee were desired by the Americans, and by their 
importation he saw a "big profit." 

Business prospered, and in 1779 Girard wrote to his 
father: "Tired of the risks of a sailor's life, I deter 
mined to settle ashore. ... I have taken a wife who 
is without fortune, but whom I love and with whom I 
am living very happily. By hard work I have finished 
furnishing my house, increased my capital to thirty- 
five thousand and hope to make good all my past 
losses." 

Peace came in 1783, and with it ports were reop 
ened and trade resumed. Convinced that by owning 
his own vessels his profits on each trading voyage 
would be largely increased, Girard became the sole 
owner of a small brig, the Two Brothers, which was 
built by him for his particular purposes. It was the 
actual beginning of that mercantile career which was 
to make him in time the richest merchant in Amer 
ica. The Two Brothers sailed for Le Cap with a 
cargo of flour and lumber. The return cargo consisted 
of molasses, sugar, coffee, and soap. The profits each 
way were large, and a second voyage to Le Cap was 
promptly undertaken. 

Meanwhile, Girard, realizing the opportunities 
which the new Republic promised, had become a citi- 



8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

zen, taking the oath of allegiance at Philadelphia on 
the twenty-seventh of October, 1778* Among the first 
of the millions of old-world people who in the years 
which followed were destined to renounce the oppres 
sive institutions of their native lands and become nat 
uralized citizens of the free United States, it is partic 
ularly interesting that Girard was born in a country 
which likewise was soon to cast aside the rule of kings 
and establish the institutions of a republic. 

From now on Girard's fortune seemed steadily to 
advance. In 1789 George Washington became the 
first President of the new Republic. With the ces 
sation of war at home and abroad, commerce was 
again resumed, and an era of prosperity gave to such 
men as Stephen Girard the opportunity to reap richly 
of the world's commercial harvest. 

Crop failures in France had created a demand for 
foreign wheat, and to stimulate its importation the 
French Government offered a premium to anyone 
importing it. It was an attractive speculation, and 
Girard, with his eye ever scanning world opportuni 
ties while others passed them by, saw his chance to 
turn an honest penny. Promptly his own ships and 
other chartered vessels were filled with grain, and an 
abundant profit was quickly realized. 

In these early days, the yellow fever, now eradi 
cated by modern knowledge of sanitation, took each 
year its death-toll among the inhabitants of southern 
countries, and from time to time extended far beyond 
Its normal field. Girard, and, in fact, most of the 
American merchants of that day, had conducted a 



STEPHEN GIRARD 9 

large business with San Domingo, the principal trad 
ing centre of the West Indies. In 1791, however, the 
large negro population of the island revolted, and fire, 
slaughter, and plunder soon turned the prosperous 
community into a wilderness. White refugees crowded 
every outgoing vessel and by the hundreds began to 
pour into Philadelphia and other American seaboard 
cities. "Take advantage of my brig Polly/' wrote 
Girard to a friend on the unhappy island, " if she still 
be in the harbor, to come here and enjoy the peace 
which our Republican Government, founded as it is 
on the rights of man, assures to all its inhabitants." 

But with the refugees came also the dreaded plague, 
and baffling the skill of the doctors, it spread through 
Philadelphia until the streets were crowded with fu 
nerals and the church-bells seemed continually to toll. 
There were few hospitals in those days, and the Phil 
adelphia hospital at Bush Hill was not only crowded 
far beyond its capacity, but was in wretched condi- 
tlon> owing to the lack of attendants. Girard was put 
on a committee, and that very evening reported the 
immediate need of nurses and money. But Girard did 
not stop with his duties as committeeman. Without 
hesitation, and totally ignoring the probability of con 
tracting the fever himself, he and a fellow townsman, 
Peter Helm, assumed active control of the hospital, 
and day and night, throughout the plague, toiled at 
this self-imposed work of mercy among the sick and 
the dying. 

Among the various accounts of the plague the 
following is of particular interest in its mention of 



io AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Girard: "Stephen Girard, a French merchant long 
resident here, and Peter Helm, born here of German 
parents, men whose names and services should never 
be forgotten, had the humanity and courage constantly 
to attend the hospital, and not only saw that the 
nurses did their duties, but they actually performed 
many of the most dangerous, and at the same time 
humiliating services for the sick with their own 
hands." 

When the plague was over, Girard returned to his 
business. In February, 1793, France declared war on 
Great Britain, and immediately British troops and 
ships seized the French cities in San Domingo. Ships 
of war and privateers of both countries promptly 
swarmed over the seas. Decrees were soon published 
by the nations at war, forbidding neutral vessels to 
trade with enemy ports. The law of nations was dis 
regarded, and American ships were seized and con 
fiscated. Great Britain particularly ignored the rights 
of American ship-owners, and thousands of dollars 
worth of American ships and cargoes were soon in 
British hands. Two of Girard's ships, the Kitty and 
the Sally, were taken. Commerce was demoralized. 

In retaliation against the outrages perpetrated by 
the British and the French, a "non-intercourse bill" 
provided that after November i, 1794, "all commer 
cial intercourse between the citizens of the United 
States and the subjects of the King of Great Britain 
should cease." The bill was lost in the Senate, but 
an embargo which closed all American ports to for- * 
eign trade accomplished practically the same end. In 



STEPHEN GIRARD 11 

all, five ships belonging to Girard were now in enemy 
hands. 

In October, 1801, after eight years of war, peace 
was concluded between France and Great Britain, 
and in December the war which the United States had 
been conducting against France was also ended. With 
the return of peace came renewed commercial activ 
ity. Girard at once availed himself of the opportunity, 
and soon his ships were engaged in trade with the 
ports of France and Russia. But this revival of com 
merce was of short duration; for the unsettled state of 
Europe soon resulted in new blockades of ports, em 
bargoes, and acts of non-intercourse against the of 
fending countries. Then, to complete the disaster, in 
1810 Napoleon annexed Holland to France and issued 
a decree "by which American ships and cargoes, 
seized in the ports of Holland, Spain, France, and 
Naples, to the value of ten million dollars, were con 
demned and sold." Five of Girard's ships which had 
sailed for northern ports were now seized and held by 
the Danes, and It was many months before their re 
lease could be secured. Trade with Europe was at an 
end; but despite the heavy losses which Girard had 
^uffered, he did not hesitate or allow himself to be 
mastered by the situation. If Europe was closed, 
South America and the Far East were open to him, 
and now his ships began new commerce with new con 
tinents, and in December, 1810, the ship Montesquieu 
set sail for Valparaiso and Canton. 

During these years of commercial activity Girard 
had become a large Investor in real estate, and of his 



12 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

profits from his trading ventures at sea he had in 1812 
almost four hundred thousand dollars invested in 
.farm acres and lots and buildings in Philadelphia. In 
1812 the United States declared war against Great 
Britain. Bad feeling had long existed, due primarily 
to the disregard of the British for the rights of Amer 
ican vessels. For a long time Great Britain persisted 
in stopping our ships, taking American seamen out of 
them and forcing them to serve on British vessels. It 
-was more than patriotism could bear, and the nation 
enthusiastically entered the war with the cry of 
^ Free Trade and Sailor's Rights." Forced practically 
from the sea, Girard turned his great abilities to fin 
ance and the service of his country. 

Girard was now sixty-two years old, but age did not 
deter him from a new enterprise. A bank had long been 
needed in Philadelphia, and to take advantage of the 
opportunity, Girard established a banking institution 
with a capital of over a million dollars, which was 
called Stephen Girard's Bank. The cost of the war 
which was being fought with Great Britain was a 
severe strain on the finances of the United States, and 
at the close of the year 1812 it became necessary for 
the Treasury to borrow money or the nation would be- 
pome bankrupt. Sixteen million dollars was all that 
teas required, but the loan was a failure, and less than 
four millions was subscribed. In April a new offering of 
the loan was prepared, but again the effort to float it 
ended in failure. In all only $5,838,000 was sub 
scribed. More than ten million dollars must still be 
borrowed. 



MM STEPHEN GIRARD 13 

Now came an opportunity for Girard to repay to 
the United States the debt of gratitude for all that his , 
citizenship had brought him. To the United Statesv 
he owed his all, for in this free and fearless country 
had been enabled to amass his great fortune. 
two other men of means, Girard came forward andSfl 
offered to subscribe for the entire balance of the loan.p 
The offer was promptly accepted, and a situation of 
great embarrassment to the country was avoided. 

With the defeat of Napoleon at Leipsic in i8i3,/^ 
and his abdication in 1814, Great Britain found her-C* 
self free to conduct a more strenuous attack on the 
United States, and for a time matters went badly 
with the youthful nation. A British raid on the city of - 
Washington resulted in the burning of the Capitol, 
President's house, and other public buildings; 
this was followed in September by a raid on Balti 
more, which, however, resulted in failure. Great 
panic was caused by these actions, and for a time 
banking was demoralized and business practically 
suspended. But on Christmas Eve, 1814, a treaty oL^ 
peace was signed at Ghent, and once more Girard Q 
promptly resumed his world-wide trading, and once % 
more the Stars and Stripes blew free from halyards. O 

Girard suffered two severe losses by reason of thefl 
war, in the loss of his ship Good Friends and in a ran 
som of $180,000 which he was required to pay for his 
ship Montesquieu and cargo, captured while return 
ing from Canton, China. But in spite of this, so great 
ly had his wealth increased, that he now paid more 
than a hundredth part of the total taxes of the city of 



i 4 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Philadelphia and his commercial capital was suffi 
cient to enable him to sell goods on credit and to 
carry on a maritime business throughout the world 
without aid of discount. "All this," he has stated, "do 
I owe principally to my close attention to business, 
and to the resources which this fine country affords to 
all active or industrious men." 

In the years which followed, Girard found declining 
profit in European cargoes brought to Philadelphia, 
and in 1821 he began to trade heavily with the Far 
East. Two of his ships, the Voltaire and the Montes 
quieu, were wrecked during this period; but Girard 
was as good a loser as a gainer, and pocketed his 
losses with small comment. Out of his fleet only four 
ships remained. Girard was now an old man, markets 
were bad owing to the panic in England and on the 
Continent, and the prospect for continuous profitable 
trading seemed ominous. It was only natural that he 
should turn from the sea. 

Speculation in land had proved to be as fascinating 
as his speculations in ships and cargoes. Girard began 
to buy land, and soon his total holdings amounted in 
all to 200,370 acres. In March 1830 he purchased for 
$30,000 certain tracts of Pennsylvania coal lands 
which have to-day a fabulous value. But the land 
which chiefly held his interest was those few acres of 
his farm. "At my age the sole amusement which I en 
joy is to be in the country constantly busy in attend 
ing to the work of the farm generally." The peace and 
happiness of this final episode made a happy ending of 
Girard's long, useful, and successful life. 



STEPHEN GIRARD 15 

"The accumulation of money interested him but 
little. He had now entered on his eighty-first year. 
His will was made and his great wealth dedicated to 
the good of posterity. He was under no incentive to 
labor for its increase. Yet in his bank, in his counting- 
house, on his farm, he continued to toil as of old from 
the sheer love of work." 

At the time of his death in 1831, Girard had for 
fifty-five years been a resident of Philadelphia, and 
for practically his entire mature life a citizen of the 
United States. His funeral was of " immense extent " ; 
the streets were thronged by people assembled to pay 
" a last tribute of respect to a great public benefactor." 
y'The estate left by Girard amounted to almost 
seven million dollars, an amount which, in considera 
tion of the times, would compare with the greatest 
fortunes of the present day. By the terms of his will, 
although there were many large charitable bequests, 
the bulk of the fortune was bequeathed to the city of 
Philadelphia, to be used in building and maintaining a 
school "to provide for such a number of poor male 
white orphan children . . . a better education as well 
as a more comfortable maintenance than they usu 
ally receive from the application of the public funds." 
i Certain other provisions have kept alive the mem 
ory of the testator's downrightness and individuality. 
In a paragraph of the will, Girard enjoined and re 
quired that "no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of 
any sect whatsoever shall ever hold or exercise any 
station or duty whatever In the said college, nor shall 
any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or 



16 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the 
purposes of the said college. In making this restric 
tion, I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any 
sect or person whatever; but as there is such a multi 
tude of sects, and such diversity of opinion among 
them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the or 
phans, who are to derive advantage from this be 
quest, free from the excitements which clashing doc 
trines and sectarian controversy are apt to produce." 

Under the wise management of the trustees of the 
estate, the public bequests of Girard can now be reck 
oned in millions. By the thrift, daring, and vision of 
a poor French sailor lad a great city of a mighty na 
tion has received incalculable benefit throughout a 
century past, and will receive increasing benefit for 
centuries to come. Grasping eagerly the unlimited op 
portunities of the Republic where all men stand sure 
footed in the equal race for the highest rewards that 
civilization can bestow, he seized for himself the hon 
ors of high citizenship, the satisfaction of sincere phil 
anthropy, and the pleasures that the possession of 
vast wealth profitably employed can bring. 

To every boy of foreign birth the United States to 
day holds equal promise. Not in mass movements, 
where progress is measured in the terms of the slow 
est, is the reward to be achieved. Only by effort hon 
estly and sincerely given, in a land where opportunity 
is free to all, can the heights be reached. America, old 
est of republics, cradle of liberty, extends its welcome 
to the youth that is and is to come, as its welcome 
has been extended to the youth of generations past. 



II 

JOHN ERICSSON 

Born in Nordmark, Sweden, 1803 
Died in New York City, 1889 

HIGH up in the dark forests of Wermland, an ancient 
division of Sweden, where deep cold lakes feed the 
great rivers with clear water and send them down the 
mountains to the sea, was born, in the year 1803, a 
baby, John Ericsson, who in the years that followed 
made for himself a name which brought glory to the 
United States, the land of his adoption, and undying 
fame to the country of his birth. 

There were few comforts or pleasures waiting to 
welcome young Ericsson into the world. The little 
village where he was born rested high in the moun 
tains within six degrees of the Arctic Circle. All 
around were dark and gloomy forests, filled with 
strange legends and tales of ancient heroes, handed 
down from grandfather to father and from father to 
son. The hard thin soil of the mountains was unfit 
for cultivation, and it was difficult for the people of 
the forest villages to live on the poor crops which they 
produced in the few acres hewn from the forests. 

But down beneath the tree-roots, deep-lying in the 
mountain-sides, were vast deposits of iron ore, re 
nowned throughout the world as the material of the 
finest cutlery. So the deep iron-mines gave to the 



1 8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

inhabitants of these mountain villages a hard-earned 
living which tempered their own spirits with that 
same quality which the Swedish iron developed in the 
blade of steel 

Olaf Ericsson, the father of John, was part owner of 
a small iron-mine and also superintendent of an iron 
works, and so the small boy, with few playmates and 
none of the school advantages of the American lad of 
the present day, found his play and early education in 
the machinery at the mine and foundry. He was an 
industrious boy, and he was quick to discover the in 
terest and inspiration of the things which surrounded 
him. All day, with pieces of paper, a pencil, and some 
drawing-tools which he had made for himself, he 
studied the principles of the machines and drew clear 
designs of them to illustrate their construction. 

When John was eleven years old, his father left the 
mining village of Langbanshyttan and took with him 
his wife and his three children: John, Nils, a year 
older than John, and a sister, the oldest of the three. 
For many years the Swedish Government had con 
sidered the building of a great ship-canal which 
would open navigation across the Swedish peninsular, 
and it was as foreman of this project that Olaf Erics 
son settled his family at Forsvik, a hundred miles 
from the old mountain home. 

The mechanical features of this great engineering 
work filled young Ericsson with wonder and enthusi 
asm, and in his eagerness to obtain knowledge, in or 
der that he too might participate, he sought informa 
tion and education from everyone who had the time 



JOHN ERICSSON 19 

and inclination to help him. From a boarder in his 
father's household John learned to draw maps and 
plans with skill and accuracy. A friendly professor 
aided his architectural drawing, and one winter he 
studied chemistry and learned to make his own inks 
and colors with a few pennies' worth of chemicals 
bought from the town druggist. In these years he also 
learned the French language, Latin, and grammar; a 
fine foundation which enabled him in after years to 
express himself in speech and writing with a clearness 
and exactness that proved of immeasurable assistance 
to him. 

At the age of twelve the boy had so progressed in 
his studies that he was commissioned to make some 
drawings for the canal company; and in the following 
year he became assistant leveler, and a year later, 
leveler. In this work he was required to make plans 
and calculations for the canal, and had a monthly 
salary, quarters, and traveling expenses. Undoubt 
edly John possessed unusual ability, but this extraor 
dinary promotion of so young a boy must in large 
measure have been the result of his conscientious de 
votion to his studies and his enthusiasm and ambition 
in his work. 

In his leisure hours the boy found pleasure In build- 
Ing small working models of machinery, and among 
these was a model of a saw-mill which many years 
later he counted as the first in the long list of cele 
brated inventions which had brought him fame and 
prosperity. This model was built entirely of wood, 
with the exception of the band-saw, which was filed 



20 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

out by hand from a broken watch-spring and was op 
erated by a crank cast from an old tin spoon. A cord 
served for the driving-band. No detail was omitted, 
and when water was turned into the miniature water- 
wheel, the machinery operated perfectly. With simi 
lar ingenuity he made for himself draughtsman's 
compasses, from birchwood and broken needles; and 
from the hairs in an old fur garment of his mother's 
he laboriously fashioned brushes with which to apply 
colors, also of his own making, to his drawings. 

But now the father's health broke beneath the 
weight of his work; the small earnings which sup 
ported the family dwindled, and each year that went 
by gave to the growing boys added responsibilities. 
In 1820 John realized that the time had come for him 
to take his own path and begin actively to build for his 
future. His father had died in the previous year and 
his mother and sister were supporting themselves by 
taking as boarders the workers on the canaL It was 
necessary that he also should contribute to their 
comfort. 

Realizing the physical and moral value of military 
training, young Ericsson joined the Swedish army. 
He was now seventeen, a fine powerful fellow with 
smooth active muscles, a clear eye, and a well-trained 
brain. When he was eighteen there were few, if any, 
of his fellows who could match him in feats of strength 
or agility, and on one occasion he is said to have lifted 
a cannon weighing over six hundred pounds. 

Advancement came rapidly, and he was soon rec 
ognized as an expert artillery draughtsman and an 



JOHN ERICSSON 2I 

expert in the science of artillery, a branch of the service 
in which he had begun to specialize. It will be inter 
esting to see how this early army experience gave to 
Ericsson knowledge which in later life brought him 
his greatest fame and enabled him to turn the tide of 
history and hold nations attentive before his words. 
The stirring mind of the young man now yearned 
for a wider horizon than the Swedish army afforded, 
and for a greater opportunity than his own country 
presented. For several years he had been experiment 
ing with a new type of engine by which he hoped to 
obtain greater horse-power with economy of fuel. 
England seemed to offer the opportunity, and in 1826 
he left his native land and took up his residence in 
London. 

^ Ericsson went to England at the opening of an en 
gineering era. The employment of steam as a motive 
power was in its infancy. Travel by sea was entirely 
by ships; on land the stage-coach and canal-boat fur 
nished the only means of transportation. The steam- 
engine was an undeveloped toy of science. Electricity 
in its industrial application was unknown. 

Forming a business partnership with an English 
ipachine manufacturer, John Braithwaite, under the 
firm name of Ericsson and Braithwaite, Ericsson im 
mediately turned his tremendous faculties to various 
engineering improvements and inventions. First a 
gas-engine occupied his interest; then he turned to his 
former conception of a "flame-engine," in which, by 
putting the actual fire directly under the piston, the 
expanding air would supply the motor power. In 1 828 



22 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

he built and put into operation in a tin-mine in Corn 
wall a water-pump driven by compressed air an 
invention on which he later based his claim as in 
ventor of a machine utilizing compressed air for trans 
mitting power. 

It was in the year 1819 that the Atlantic was for the 
first time crossed by a steam vessel, the United States 
ship Savannah, and this revolutionizing event stimu 
lated Ericsson to new endeavors. In the months follow 
ing he produced a number of important improvements 
by which smaller and lighter boilers were made possi 
ble by increasing the heat, and hence the power, of the 
fire by forced draught, as well as many other radical 
improvements in steam-engines and boiler-construc 
tion. Of these he claims particularly the credit of the 
invention of " surface condensation applied to steam 
navigation." 

The first steam fire-engine an apparatus which 
to-day constitutes perhaps the most important fea 
ture of a city's fire department was invented and 
built by Ericsson in 1829. Previously, and as a mat 
ter of fact for years afterward, hand-operated engines, 
manned by crews of volunteer firemen, fought the 
fires which so frequently destroyed vast sections of 
the wood-constructed cities of those early days. It is 
not surprising that this valuable invention did not 
receive immediate recognition, for Inventors rarely 
obtain such recognition from the people whom their 
inventions benefit. In fact, Ericsson's portable steam 
fire-engine was actually condemned as an impracti 
cable contrivance that could serve no useful purpose. 



JOHN ERICSSON 23 

To-day we travel thousands of miles by railroad; a 
hundred years ago our great-great-grandfathers trav 
eled by horse-drawn coaches. Where we may now 
speed a mile a minute behind a giant steam locomo 
tive, they were content with what seemed to them 
the tremendous speed of eleven miles an hour. But 
all things change. There are always leaders in the 
world's progress. Of these leaders was John Ericsson. 
Travel had been a luxury of the rich; the invention 
of the steam locomotive made fast and economical 
travel possible to the poor as well. 

In 1829 a prize of two thousand five hundred dol 
lars was offered for the best steam locomotive which 
could draw a weight of twenty tons at the rate of ten 
miles an hour. Ericsson had never built a locomotive, 
but he entered the contest. His greatest competitor 
was George Stephenson, who for several years had 
built small locomotives for use in coal mines. 

On the great day of the trial thousands of people 
thronged the track to witness the novel sight. Never 
in the world's history had there been a public experi 
ment so momentous, unless we except the journey 
of the American inventor's steamship, the Clermont, 
on her first historic progress up the Hudson River. 

The locomotive entered in the contest by Stephen- 
son was named the Rocket, a stong well-built engine 
that ultimately was awarded the prize. But although 
he was not the winner in this great competition, to 
Ericsson belongs great credit, for his locomotive, the 
Novelty, passed the Rocket at the amazing speed, for 
those days, of thirty miles an hour, and failed to win 



24 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the prize only because of certain defects in its con 
struction which caused it to break down before the 
goal was reached. 

Ericsson was twenty-six years old when he built the 
Novelty. Already he had contributed many useful in 
ventions to the world. But his greatest triumphs 
were still to come. He had been beaten fairly and 
squarely by Stephenson, but his was not the spirit 
that is easily subdued. Ericsson, like the hero of 
Greek mythology, rose the strpnger each time an ad 
versary cast him to the earth. 

In 1836 he married a nineteen-year-old English girl, 
Amelia Byam, granddaughter of Sir Charles Byam, 
some time British Commissioner for Antigua. 

For a short time he devoted himself to theperfection 
of a hot-air engine, and a sounding device by which 
ships might ascertain the depth of the water over 
which they were passing. Then he turned to a new ac 
tivity. The result was revolutionary. What he had al 
most accomplished in the field of land-transportation 
with the Novelty, he now actually achieved in steam- 
navigation on the sea. To Ericsson should be credited 
the perfection and application of the screw for the 
propulsion of steam-driven vessels. 

Up to the dawn of the nineteenth century the sail 
ing-ship had ruled the seas. And even until the middle 
of that century the fast clippers, with their towers of 
widespread canvas, had held supreme domination 
over the world's waterways. But In the year 1835 
Ericsson designed a rotary propeller driven by a 
steam-engine, which marked the beginning of the end 



JOHN ERICSSON 25 

of sailing days. The steam-engine, first placed in a 
ship by Robert Fulton, the American inventor, was 
no novelty, but it had been used only to propel ves 
sels by means of paddle-wheels attached to each side 
of the vessels, huge cumbersome contrivances, which 
were easily damaged by heavy seas and which on 
ships of war afforded easy targets for the enemy. 

The screw of Ericsson's was designed to operate un 
derneath the stern of the vessel, under water and just 
forward of the rudder, exactly as it is placed to-day. 
To test this new invention Ericsson built a small ves 
sel, the Francis B. Ogden, which was launched in the 
Thames River in the spring of 1837. The experiment 
was a great success and a speed of over ten miles an 
hour was attained, to the wonder of the stolid Eng 
lish boatmen who watched in amazement this strange 
ship move rapidly through the water with no visible 
means of propulsion. 

Later in the summer Ericsson Invited the Lords of 
the British Admiralty to inspect his steamship, and 
even conducted them on a trial trip on the Thames; 
but the amazing performance of the Ogden created but 
little interest in the minds of the British officials, who 
dismissed the affair as an " interesting experiment." 

But Ericsson had a friend who stood him in good 
stead. This friend was an American, Francis B. Og 
den, our counsul at Liverpool, after whom Ericsson's 
first vessel was named. Ogden was not an engineer, 
but he recognized in the Swedish inventor a man of 
sincerity and genius, and to his friendship Ericsson 
owed much in the way of advice and assistance. 



26 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

In 1838 Ericsson built and launched a larger steam* 
ship, the Robert F. Stockton which sailed from 
Gravesend, England, on April 13, 1839, and made a 
successful passage to New York City, the first screw- 
driven steamship ever to cross the Atlantic, As the 
result of this remarkable achievement Ericsson was 
assured that the government of the United States 
would try out his invention on a large scale, and 
persuaded him to go to America. 

Ericsson was not reluctant. For years he had 
struggled under the old-world conservatism. With his 
energy and ambition, he realized that only in the great 
land of opportunity beyond the sea could lie his hope 
of recognition. In November, 1839, he sailed for the 
United States, 

There were no steam vessels in our navy when 
Ericsson reached our shores, and it was not until 1842 
that the building of the Princeton gave him the op 
portunity to display his great invention. The Prince 
ton was a small iron warship of six hundred tons, and 
to her construction Ericsson contributed not only his 
screw-propeller, but also a new construction for the 
gun-carriage, and, of even greater importance, a can 
non reinforced by steel hoops shrunk on to the breech 
of the gun. This reinforcing of the breech of a cannon 
may be said to have established the recognized con 
struction of the modern high-power naval guns of the 
present day. 

The Princeton marked a new advance in naval con 
struction. Her speed, the location of her machin 
ery below the water-line and hence out of danger 



JOHN ERICSSON 27 

from an enemy's guns, her novel screw-propulsion, 
and her powerful armament made her the centre, not 
only of national, but of world interest. 

For a number of years following, Ericsson contin 
ued his development of the science of naval engineer 
ing, and in 1843 applied for the first time twin-screw 
engines to the steamship Marmora. During these 
years recognition began to bring to the great inventor 
the financial rewards which he had long deserved. In 
the year 1844 his receipts from his inventions and con 
tracts amounted to almost $40,000, and the following 
year he received almost $85,000. But the road to 
wealth and glory contains many obstacles, and the suc 
cesses that crowned the work of these few years were 
in a large measure balanced by reverses, although in 
the end triumph out-balanced all. 

For several years Ericsson devoted his energies to 
the perfection of a model type of warship, but his 
untiring efforts received scant recognition from the 
government. October 28, 1848, was, however, a day 
memorable, not only in the life of Ericsson, but In the 
history of the United States, for on that day he be 
came a naturalized citizen. Born in a foreign land, a 
sojourner In European countries, it was but natural 
that the Swedish genius should find In this young 
nation of opportunity the field which he needed 
for the expression of his wonderful faculties. By 
his naturalization, Ericsson brought to the United 
States the fine inheritance of an ancient nation, and 
infused into the blood of the new republic addi 
tional strength and virility. Save for the native 



28 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Indian, there Is no true American; but in the mingled 
blood of the people of many lands may be found to 
day a race that combines the best of the nations of the 
earth, a composite people, free, prosperous, and mas 
ters of their own glorious destiny. 

For many years Ericsson had held faith in the 
theory of a hot-air engine in which heated air would 
produce the effect of steam, but with greater economy. 
With characteristic confidence he carried his experi 
ments to their completion, and expended practically 
his entire capital on the necessary models and ma 
chines which the working-out of his plans required. 
Success crowned his efforts, and the hot-air, or caloric, 
engine was generally conceded to be a success. 

As the result of these experiments a number of New 
York capitalists supplied the necessary money to 
construct a large steamship, the paddle-wheels of 
which were operated by caloric engines designed by 
Ericsson. The vessel was named after the Inventor 
and was a most novel and radical departure from any 
vessel up to that time designed. Her cost exceeded 
half a million dollars: an investment which showed 
the high esteem in which her designer was held. The 
Ericsson was launched in September, 1852, and made 
her trial trip on January 4, 1853. Never had so strong 
or fine a ship been built; the newspapers of the day 
were filled with praise, and her designer received from 
every quarter the most extravagant congratulations 
for the mechanical marvel which he had created. 

But unexpected disaster destroyed in a few seconds 
the product of these months of thought and energy. 



JOHN ERICSSON 29 

Within a few weeks of her launching the Ericsson 
encountered a tornado, and capsized and sank a few 
miles off New York Light* Although she was be 
lieved by many to mark the end of the use of steam- 
power and the beginning of a new era of hot-air 
dynamics, it is now recognized that this invention 
reached its maximum development in the Ericsson; 
and it is in connection with a later and far greater in 
vention that history has accorded recognition to the 
designer's great mechanical genius. 

Long before Ericsson left England he had thought 
out the plans for a strange kind of vessel, protected 
with iron, which would be able to fight and defeat 
any warship of any size. In 1854, the year in which 
he perfected the plan for his new type of warship, 
the navies of all the great nations were composed, in 
large part, of huge wooden vessels, usually sailing- 
ships, but a few combining sails and steam. For a 
number of years the use of iron-plating, or armor, on 
the sides of battleships had been discussed, and in 
1845 R. L. Stevens, an American engineer, actually 
began the construction of a vessel, or "floating bat 
tery," encased in metal. 

To France however, probably belongs the credit for 
the construction of the first ironclads, consisting of 
these floating batteries, the Lave, Devastation, and 
Tonnante, protected by 4,25-inch iron plates, which 
were used during the Crimean War. The following 
year France began the construction of four ironclad 
steam frigates, and England immediately followed, 
with the construction of a number of similar vessels. 



30 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

But the warship of John Ericsson in no way resem 
bled the huge ironclads of France or England. With 
characteristic disregard for precedent he designed a 
ship which rested so low in the water that only about 
three feet of its sides would be exposed. The sides 
and deck were protected by heavy plates of iron, and 
in the centre of the deck was a circular heavily ar 
mored turret which revolved in either direction 
and contained powerful guns. These vessels, or 
monitors, as Ericsson named them, were to be pro 
pelled by steam. The particular advantages of the 
type were that so little of the craft showed above the 
water that it afforded an exceedingly small target to 
an enemy; that the heavy plating protected it from 
hostile shot, and the revolving target enabled the 
crew to fire in any direction without manoeuvring the 
vessel, while such shot as might strike the turret 
would glance harmlessly from its circular side. 

During the Crimean War Ericsson offered the plans 
for this remarkable vessel to the French Emperor ; but 
they were politely declined as impractical in much 
the same way in which, some years earlier, the British 
Admiralty had declined to consider the screw-pro 
peller as little more than an amusing experiment. 

When war was declared in 1861 between the North 
ern States and the Confederate States of the South, 
Ericsson was fifty-eight years old. In this national 
calamity in which brother was armed against brother, 
and the fate of the country seemed hanging by a 
thread, Ericsson unhesitatingly cast himself with 
those who sought the preservation of the Union and 



JOHN ERICSSON 31 

the abolition of slavery from the United States. 
Never before had his adopted country needed so vi 
tally his tremendous services. With superb health 
derived from a normal life of conservative habits, 
and a brain trained by long years of engineering ez- 
periment, Ericsson found himself ready and able to 
meet the call for his greatest service to the nation. 

The United States navy at the beginning of the 
war was composed entirely of wooden vessels. Early 
in 1 86 1 the Confederates began the construction of a 
floating battery heavily armored with iron. For this 
purpose the old United States frigate Merrimac, 
which had been burned and sunk in the Norfolk Navy 
Yard, was raised, and the work of encasing her with 
armor plates was begun. 

Meanwhile, in the North, Congress had called for 
proposals for ironclad steam vessels, and less than a 
month later, Ericsson addressed to President Lincoln 
a letter in which he offered to submit the plans of a 
monitor, and described the advantages of its unique 
design. On September 13, Ericsson went to Wash 
ington -and personally laid before the Navy Depart 
ment his plans and received a contract to proceed with 
the construction of the Monitor. 

The keel was laid on October 25, and on January 
30, she slid down the ways into the water. A month 
later she was commissioned. The Monitor was 172 
feet in length and displaced 776 tons. In the centre of 
her low flat deck was the revolving turret, twenty feet 
in diameter, protected by eight inches of iron-plating. 
Two heavy guns were mounted in the turret. The 



32 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

vessel was operated entirely by steam-engines, placed 
well below the water-line, which propelled a screw be 
neath the overhanging stern. 

Rushed to completion in the brief period of three 
months, the Monitor was barely commissioned in 
time to render, at Hampton Roads, the tremendous 
service which in a few brief hours revolutionized naval 
warfare, made obsolete the navies of the world, res 
cued the Union navy from crushing disaster, and im 
mortalized the name of John Ericsson, her designer 
and constructor. 

The Monitor had been intended to serve with Ad 
miral Farragut's fleet at New Orleans, but a crisis 
nearer at hand made a sudden change of plans neces 
sary. The Monitor left New York on the afternoon of 
March 6 ? 1862, under command of Lieutenant John L. 
Warden, U.S.N., and arrived at Hampton Roads on 
the evening of March 8, after a stormy passage. 

Meanwhile the armored Confederate ram Merri- 
mac had created havoc with the great wooden war 
ships of the Federal navy. On the seventh, the Mer- 
rimac had rammed and sunk the frigate Cumberland, 
and then destroyed the Congress, vessels powerless to 
inflict injury on the iron sides of the Confederate ram. 
The tall frigates, St. Lawrence, Roanoke, and Min 
nesota, powerless to resist or to escape, awaited their 
Inevitable destruction on the following day. 

But on that eventful morning, as the Merrimac 
steamed out into the stream to complete her work, 
which would break the blockade the Federal forces 
had established, the Monitor glided out from under 



JOHN ERICSSON 33 

the stern of the Minnesota, looking for all the world 
like "a barrel-head afloat with a cheese-box on top 
of it." 

For four hours these two strange vessels fought this 
greatest duel of naval history, which, on the ships and 
the shores, was watched by the anxious eyes of sol 
diers and sailors of North and South to whom the out 
come was of such tremendous import. Manoeuvring 
like boxers, the two vessels circled each other, black 
smoke pouring from their low funnels and the red 
flame of the great guns spurting from the gun-ports. 
As she had rammed the Cumberland, so did the Mer- 
rimac endeavor to crush the Monitor with her ram; 
but the Monitor either slipped past her heavier and 
more ungainly adversary or allowed the Merrimac to 
push her aside. Round and round the circular turret 
swung, turning away in order to load the two guns 
which protruded, and then swinging back to deliver 
a volley of metal against the plated sloping side of the 
Merrimac. 

Unable to damage the Monitor and herself severely 
pounded by the forty-one shots which the Monitor 
had fired, the Merrimac finally withdrew, leaving the 
strange warship of the Swedish-American inventor 
the victor. The Minnesota, the Roanoke, and the 
St. Lawrence were saved. The blockade remained 
unbroken. 

In the words of a Confederate who witnessed the 
battle, "The Monitor was by immense odds the most 
formidable vessel of war on this planet." 

During the following years of the war, Ericsson 



34 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

devoted his vast energies to the service of his coun 
try, and at great financial loss and immeasurable 
personal sacrifice constructed a large number of ves 
sels of the Monitor type for the navy. 

With the close of the war Ericsson continued the 
marvelous series of inventions which he had given to 
the world. For a number of years he gave his best 
thought to the building and mounting of heavy guns; 
and later he turned his energies to the construction of 
a practical submarine torpedo. In these later experi- 
.ments he personally invested over a hundred thou 
sand dollars. 

From the United States and foreign countries came 
recognition of his services to the world. In 1866 the 
Department of State offered him the appointment of 
Commissioner to the Universal Exposition at Paris. 
The previous year he had received a resolution of 
thanks from the Swedish Parliament. Among other 
honors conferred upon him were his election to the 
Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, honorary mem 
berships in the Royal Military Academy of Science 
of Stockholm and the Royal Military Academy of 
Sweden, a joint resolution of thanks from the United 
States Congress, a resolution from the State of New 
York, the Rumford gold and silver medals, and a gold 
medal from the Society of Iron Masters of Sweden. 
In 1863 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. 
from Wesleyan University; and later he was made a 
Knight Commander with the Grand Cross of the 
order of the North Star and a Commander of St. Olaf, 
two Swedish honors. In later years came many other 



JOHN ERICSSON 35 

distinctions, not only from the United States and 
Sweden, but from Denmark, Spain, and Austria. 

In these later years came also many demands on 
Ericsson's generosity, and to the near members of his 
family, and even to his most distant relatives, he in 
variably responded with a substantial gift. Realizing 
the tremendous value of education, he gave freely 
when money was needed to provide schooling for the 
children of members of his family whom he had never 
seen. But these benefactions to relatives and friends 
were invariably made only when Ericsson believed in 
the true need and the sincerity of the request. Out of 
the considerable income which came to him from his 
inventions in .later years he gave also with a liberal 
hand whenever public or private distress was brought 
to his attention. 

Ericsson's own wants were few. His temperate 
habits, his love of physical exercise, and his simple 
tastes made but slender demands on his income. Vig 
orous by inheritance, and possessing a fine physique 
from his early activities, he preserved his splendid 
vigor throughout his long life. Rarely has been given 
to the world a finer example of health and character 
contributing to a career of splendid usefulness. 

On the eighth of March, 1889, John Ericsson died in 
his New York house, where for a quarter of a century 
he had lived his active and solitary existence. The sig 
nificance of his death was recognized, not only by his 
native Sweden and the United States, the land of his 
adoption, but by the entire civilized world, In which 
his inventions had brought such revolutionizing 



36 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

changes. But the story of his achievements can never 
die, and In the history of his useful life is an inspira 
tion to every succeeding generation to whom the 
United States unfolds an ever-increasing opportunity. 



HI 
LOUIS AGASSIZ 

Born in Metier, Switzerland, 1807 
Died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1873 

WHEN men first received the names which they have 
handed down through succeeding generations there 
was undoubtedly an appropriate reason for the name 
which each man bore. The 'Smiths quite probably 
worked with iron, the Carpenters labored with saw 
and hammer, and the son of John became Johnson to 
his friends. But centuries have passed, and it rarely 
happens to-day that a man's name describes his voca 
tion or his characteristics. 

Occasionally, however, there is an exception, and 
the name of Agassiz is one of these. Lover of nature, 
and particularly of the living things which have for 
hundreds of thousands of years inhabited the earth, 
Louis Agassiz bore a name that suggested his ruling 
interests; for Agassiz, or Aigasse as it was written in 
old French, is the name of the magpie, a lovable, 
friendly bird that was known to every peasant in the 
beautiful countryside of La Sarraz, 

Louis Agassiz was a naturalist and a geologist. 
Wise in all departments of these wide fields of nature 
study, and the leading teacher in his time, he will al 
ways be remembered for his discoveries in two partic 
ular departments of his great subject. Agassiz was an 



38 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

ichthyologist and a palaeontologist. These are hard 
Latin names, but they are easily understood, for an 
ichthyologist is a man who studies fishes, and a palaeon 
tologist is one who is a student of the ancient life of 
the globe as it may be seen in the fossil remains deep 
buried in the earth. Moreover, to the science of geol 
ogy Agassiz contributed a great discovery which rev 
olutionized the thought of scientists of his day; for it 
was he who proved beyond all doubt that at one time, 
far back in the world's history, great moving glaciers 
covered a huge part of the earth's surface, and where 
now the summer sunshine warms green fields, at one 
time, in an arctic temperature, these same lands were 
deep buried under grinding, creeping fields of ice. 

Not far from Lake Neuchatel, In western Switzer 
land, is the little village of Motier, a place so small 
that it is hard to find it on the maps of ordinary at 
lases. Below the village the blue water of Lake Morat 
gleams like a bit of sky in the green of hills and fields, 
and beyond, like a blue wall against the sky, the Ber 
nese Alps look down over the ancient country. 

Here on May 28, 1807, was born Jean Louis Ru 
dolph Agassiz. His father was a clergyman and his 
mother the daughter of a physician, and the boy in 
herited from them a love of study and a delight in 
teaching which always distinguished him. From the 
beautiful country of his birth came also an inheritance 
of nature that kept him throughout his long life al 
ways a boy at heart. 

The lakes of Switzerland are among the oldest 
dwelling-places of mankind since human life began. 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 39 

Beneath the waters of Lake Morat are still found 
traces of an ancient race that once lived there in huts 
built over the water; still may be seen, far down in the 
blue deeps, the earthen vessels which, perhaps, fell 
from their dwellings; occasionally are found the 
stumps of piles on which their houses rested. They 
were a water-loving people, and Agassiz, born on the 
shores of the same lake as this ancient people, found 
in the water a natural and congenial element. 

He was a normal, wholesome boy, but from the 
very first his love of nature displayed itself at every 
turn. He delighted in birds and animals and insects, 
and he was constantly scouring the vineyard-clad 
hillsides and the woods and meadows for new speci 
mens. But it was on the waters of the lakes and In 
their cold clear depths that his insatiate curiosity 
found Its greatest gratification. He was a skilful fish 
erman and he soon learned the haunts and habits of 
every kind of fish that dwelt there. With his brother 
Auguste, the bright summer days fled past In one long 
excursion. Like the fish which they hunted, the boys 
found In the lakes a friendly element. They were 
splendid swimmers, so skilled that they would often 
abandon entirely the hook and line, and, diving swiftly 
into the water, catch the gliding fish in their hands. 

Like all boys who live in the country, Louis had 
made collections of every kind, and In the garden near 
.the house he kept constantly Increasing families of 
rabbits, field-mice, guinea-pigs, and birds. These 
were not merely pets which he loved and cared for; 
even in his youthful eyes they seemed to have a deeper 



4 o AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

significance, for he studied them and observed their 
habits in a way that gave him a basis for the scientific 
observations of his later life. 

It was natural that such a boy should be fearless, 
and in this respect Louis was far above the average. 
Strong, alert, and resourceful, he was a splendid 
swimmer and a strong skater. Many are the tales of 
boyish fearlessness that are told about him, tales of 
boating exploits, of long excursions, and particularly 
of how once he made a bridge of his body across a deep 
fissure in the ice too wide to jump, that his brother 
Auguste might creep across. 

When he was ten years old, his active schooling 
began. In the nearby town of Bienne was a public 
school for boys. The rules were strict and the hours 
long, for the boys were required to study for nine 
hou^s every day. But the father had given Louis a 
good grounding in the elements of education, and 
this, combined with his natural aptitude, gave him an 
advantage over his fellow students. 

Vacations, however, were as welcome to Louis and 
his brother as they are to boys of the present day; and 
long before dawn on the first day of each vacation, the 
two boys would be up and homeward bound, swinging 
along the twenty miles of country road which lay be 
tween Bienne and Motier. These were happy days, 
for although the Agassiz family had but the very 
small income which the office of a country minister af 
forded, there was a wealth of good fun and love and 
wholesome out-of-door happiness in the lives of the 
young people who made merry in the little town. 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 41 

Four years were spent at the school at Bienne, and 
as the end of the fourth year neared, Louis, although 
only fourteen years old, announced to his parents his 
desire to become an author. " I wish to advance in the 
sciences/' he wrote his father. " I have resolved to be 
come a man of letters." And then he expressed his 
hope that he might be permitted, after spending a 
year and a half in commerce at Neuchatel, to pass 
four years at a university in Germany, and finally fin 
ish his studies at Paris. " Then, at the age of twenty- 
five," he concluded, " I could begin to write." Mature 
ambitions these, for a boy of fourteen years! 

It was fortunate that the elder Agassiz recognized 
in the boy those qualities which were uppermost, and 
encouraged his studious desires. The year and a half 
of business training was abandoned, and in its place 
Louis was sent for two years of additional study at the 
College of Lausanne. Already he had felt the charm 
of study, and his boyish pastimes had now become 
studious Investigations which absorbed his interest 
and energy. His work was as orderly as his mind; his 
notebooks, written with remarkable neatness In a 
small fine handwriting, are excellent examples of clear 
classification of whatever branch of study he under 
took. Everything was arranged and classified; sub 
jects were clearly separated and subdivided under 
marked headings; nothing was begun that was not 
completed In every detail. 

At Lausanne, Agassiz had access to the first natural 
history collection that he had ever seen; and there 
also he found friends who sympathized with his favor- 



42 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

ite tastes. While he was at Lausanne, It was decided 
that he should study medicine, a profession which 
would meet his natural inclinations and at the same 
time ultimately yield him the income necessary for 
his support. 

Accordingly, during his seventeenth year, Louis 
entered the medical school at Ztirich. Here he found 
still more congenial surroundings; for among the fac 
ulty of the university were men of reputation in the 
particular branches of natural history which most 
deeply interested him. Under the professor of nat 
ural history the study of ornithology was opened to 
him. Here also the sciences of zodlogy and geology 
were taught, and Louis eagerly enrolled in the classes 
that were held in these subjects. 

In 1826, after two years at Zurich, Louis entered 
the great German University of Heidelberg, and there 
his true university life began. The four years that he 
passed there were among the most Important years of 
his entire life. They were years of hard conscientious 
study, combined with wholesome recreation. " First at 
work, and first at play," was his motto. Here he made 
friendships that were tense and enduring. Two fellow 
students, Braun and Schimper, became particularly 
his Intimates, and with Agassiz formed a trio which 
their fellow students called "the Little Academy." 

It was an ambitious atmosphere, and the friend 
ships which were formed were based on a love of in 
tellectual pleasures. There was also the vivid vital 
student life beyond the classrooms; there were long 
excursions on foot in vacation times; there were duels 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 43 

and love-affairs, and there were boisterous evenings 
thick with tobacco smoke. Agassiz was a powerful 
gymnast and an expert fencer. There was nothing in 
the student life that was good in which he did not 
participate. 

Of the many friendships which his open and affec 
tionate nature so easily formed, his friendship with 
Alexander Braun was deepest and most lasting. Soon 
he began to visit Braun at his home in Carlsruhe, 
where he met his friend's two talented sisters, one of 
whom was later to become his wife. And it was here, 
in the spring of 1827, that the friendly Braun family 
nursed him back to health after a serious attack of 
typhoid fever. 

The earnestness of these young men is perhaps best 
described by Agassiz himself. "When our lectures are 
over, we meet in the evening at Braun's room or mine, 
with three or four intimate acquaintances, and talk of 
scientific matters, each one in his turn presenting a 
subject which is first developed by him and then dis 
cussed by all. These exercises are very instructive. 
As my share, I have begun to give a course of natural 
history, or rather of pure zoology. Braun talks to us 
of botany; and another of our company, Mahir, 
teaches us mathematics and physics in his turn; 
Schimper will be our professor of philosophy* Thus 
we shall form a little university, instructing one an 
other, and at the same time learning what we teach 
more thoroughly, because we shall be obliged to dem 
onstrate it." 

From Heidelberg the three companions now trans- 



44 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

ferred their studies to the new University of Munich, 
where a far more stimulating intellectual life awaited 
them. Here were some of the most celebrated teach 
ers of the day, and " the city teemed with resources for 
the student in arts, letters, philosophy, and science." 
A fine spirit existed between students and professors, 
and there was constant opportunity, not only in the 
classrooms, but beyond their walls, for the earnest 
young men to draw on the wells of information which 
their brilliant instructors freely afforded them. 

With an allowance of only $250 a year, Agassiz's 
life was necessarily simple and severe. But the three 
companions soon found that their humble rooms 
had become the meeting-place of the most brilliant 
men in the University. Students and even professors 
crowded their simple living quarters, and naturalists 
of renown came to visit these extraordinary young 
men. " Someone was always coming or going; the half- 
dozen chairs were covered with books, piled one upon 
another the bed, also, was used as a seat, and as a 
receptacle for specimens, drawings and papers." Spec 
imens of various sorts decorated the walls. In Agas- 
siz's own room were several hundred fish, " shut up in 
a wooden tub with a cover and in various big glass 
jars. A live gudgeon with beautiful stripes is wrig 
gling in his wash-bowl, and he has adorned his table 
with monkeys." 

During their vacations the young men made expe 
ditions to see such museums as were within reach, 
and to visit any scientific men to whom they could ob 
tain an introduction. All of southern Germany was 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 45 

.ded in their rambles, and their wanderings car- 
them even into explorations of extensive tracts of 
\lps. 

it although Agassiz had come to Munich for the 
ial purpose of taking the degree of doctor of medi- 
his studies, soon drifted from those of a medical 
ent to the studies of a true naturalist. He had 
; to Heidelberg "with a strong taste for natural 
>ry; he left Munich devoted heart and soul to 
ice." Under these circumstances it was only nat- 
that his first degree should be that of doctor of 
)sophy; but a year later, to fulfill the desires of 
>arents, he received the degree of doctor of medi- 
and surgery. 

p to this time Agassiz had paid no particular at- 

ion to the study of ichthyology, which was later 

scome the great occupation of his life; but in 1829 

pas unexpectedly given the opportunity to pre- 

: a history of the fresh-water fishes of Brazil, from 

Election which had been made by a celebrated 

itist who had died before he could prepare the re- 

. covering the collection. Agassiz threw himself 

tusiastically into the work of describing and figur- 

these Brazilian fishes, and in 1829 the work was 

pleted and published with the name of the youth- 

tuthor on the title-page. His life-work was begun. 

was at this time that he wrote to his father: "I 

it may be said of Louis Agassiz that he was the 

naturalist of his time, a good citizen, and a good 

beloved by those who know him." 

the autumn of 1830 Agassiz left Munich, and 



46 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

after a short visit in Vienna, where he found himself 
" received as a scientific man for whom no letters of 
recommendation were necessary," he returned to 
Switzerland and the welcome of his proud parents. 
But it was hard to adjust himself to the quiet village 
by Lake Morat, and, although money was difficult to 
secure, a visit to Paris was finally made possible 
through the generosity of a friend of the family. Here 
Agassiz formed important friendships with two of 
the greatest scientists of the age: Cuvier, the lead 
ing French zoologist, and Alexander von Humboldt, 
the leader of the scientific world. 

The years that immediately followed were filled 
with scientific progress. The " Brazilian Fishes" had 
determined Agassiz' s specialty, and the reputation of 
the book led him to plan a history of the fresh-water 
fishes of Central Europe, including a natural history 
of fossil fishes. It was an enormous undertaking, for 
palaeontology was a new science, involving the study 
of fossil specimens scattered through the museums of 
Europe. But Agassiz foresaw only the value which 
science would place on such a work, and the five vol 
umes were finally published by him, at intervals, from 
1833 to 1843. 

Life in Paris soon proved difficult for the young 
scientist, and his poverty was particularly noticeable, 
for here there was wealth and position even among 
scientific men. He had only forty dollars a month, 
and his clothing had become so worn that it was not 
possible for him to accept invitations from well-to-do 
friends. The position of professor of natural history 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 47 

NeucMtel was offered him, and, although the sal- 
y was only $400 a year, it seemed wise to ac- 
pt. His acceptance, and with it the close of his year 
Paris, marks the end of his boyhood and student 
ys. A new period awaited him. 
The college of Neuch&tel was small and uniinport- 
t. The chair of natural history was new, and there 
LS no scientific apparatus, museum, or lecture- 
Dm. But this mattered little to the young professor, 
on after his arrival he founded a Natural History 
ciety among the leading citizens of the town; his 
:tures were given in the city hall, and his own col- 
rtion formed the nucleus of a natural history 
iseum. 

As in college, so in the quiet Swiss village, Agassiz 
Dn gathered about him a group of scientific men as 
5 students and assistants, many of whom in later 
s became themselves naturalists of reputation. It 
is a "scientific factory" of which Agassiz was the 
ainspring. He was poor, but somehow he managed 
go on, supporting many of his staff in his own 
use, printing and lithographing his own publica- 
>ns, and supporting his own family as well, for his 
a.rriage had now brought additional responsibilities 
>on his broad shoulders. It was an unstable basis, 
it in one way or another Agassiz found the means to 
oceed. Money was but the means to an end, never 
e end itself. "I cannot spend my time in making 
sney!" he once said when a profitable business offer 
is made to him. The remark expressed clearly his 
m devotion to his chosen profession. 



48 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

It was during this period of his life that Agassiz 
added to scientific knowledge the proof that at some 
remote time in the earth's existence vast glaciers, 
moving fields of ice miles in area and often hundreds 
of feet in thickness^ had played a part in the earth's 
formation almost as important as the recognized 
agents, fire and water. It was a geological discovery 
the proof of which, although indisputable, seemed so 
startling, that it was with difficulty that it was ac 
cepted even by the best scientific minds of the day. 

In the Alpine country had been found great bould 
ers dropped apparently by some strange force in fields 
far from the quarries of native rock from which they 
had been torn. Here also were moraines and dikes, 
great piles of loose gravel deposited by some unknown 
agency; and here also, where the bedrock was visible, 
could be seen deep furrows and scratches on the pol 
ished stone as if chiseled by a giant tool. 

Glaciers existed in the Alps, but it was hard for 
men to believe that glaciers had once existed where 
now were green fields and meadows. But Agassiz was 
not the man to endeavor to found a belief on unsup 
ported theory, and only after six years of study of the 
glaciers and glacial traces in the Alps and actual ob 
servations on the glacier of the Aar, was he prepared 
to give his proofs of the theory to the scientific world. 
Basing his demonstration on this accumulated evi 
dence, Agassiz proved that at one time glaciers had 
covered a large part of the now civilized world. The 
great boulders had been scooped up by them in their 
progress, and perhaps some thousands of years later 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 49 

d been dropped a hundred miles away by the melt- 
j ice-sheet. So also had the masses of gravel been 
rried far from their sources, to form strange new 
icial deposits. And on the scarred and grooved 
:ks was the final evidence; for these deep scratches 
d surely been ground by the advancing glacier as it 
>wly and silently moved onward. "The idea that 
zh phenomena were not restricted to regions where 
iciers now are found, but that traces of glacial ac- 
>n could be seen over enormous tracts of the earth's 
rface, perhaps including regions in the tropics, and 
at in countries now temperate there might be dis- 
vered, not only the remains of tropical fauna and 
ra, but also distinct indications of a period of arctic 
Id this was as new as startling." 
During the years of his professorship at Neuchitel, 
jassiz published many important contributions to 
[entific knowledge in those particular departments 

natural science to which he had devoted himself. 
; the same time came also many honors, including 
:ers of professorships from the universities of Ge- 
va and Lausanne, and the award of the Wollaston 
"edal by the Geographical Society of London. 
But the second period in Agassiz's life was drawing 

a close: a great country beyond the Atlantic 
Duld soon be ready to receive him. Agassiz, the 
udent and now the discoverer, was about to begin 
s final great activity as the pioneer and teacher 

natural history to a strange people in a foreign 
nd. Each year at NeucMtel had plunged Agassiz 
ieper and deeper into debt; his situation had passed 



So AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

from bad to well-nigh hopeless. Then, unexpectedly, 
help was offered. The King of Prussia offered him 
three thousand dollars, to be spent in travel for scien 
tific purposes; and at the same time came an invita 
tion from the Lowell Institute of Boston to visit the 
United States. Agassiz could not refuse. It was a so 
lution of all his immediate difficulties; a wide horizon 
in the eager young republic spread before him. In 
September, 1846, Agassiz sailed for Boston. 

He had left behind him all that is wealth to a scien 
tific man. Books and collections were the tools of his 
trade; in his fellow naturalists he had found help and 
inspiration. In the United States bountiful nature 
had provided a fertile and unexplored field, but here 
he must work alone. "He came, perhaps, in a spirit 
of adventure and of curiosity; but he stayed because 
he loved a country where new things could be built 
up; where he could think and speak as he pleased; and 
where his ceaseless activity would be considered of 
high quality." 

On his arrival in Boston Agassiz was cordially re 
ceived by John A. Lowell, who, as trustee of the Low 
ell Institute, had extended to him the invitation which 
was in a large measure responsible for his coming. 
The course of lectures which Agassiz had planned for 
the Lowell Institute was entitled "The Plan of Crea 
tion." His success was immediate. The people were 
eager to hear the message of the great lecturer. A 
second course, on "Glaciers," was soon arranged, and 
in a few months Agassiz found himself the most pop 
ular lecturer in all the great Eastern cities. 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 51 

The subjects which he chose were always of a char 
ter which made It possible for large untrained audl- 
ces to follow him and clearly understand the points 
lich he logically developed. His command of Eng- 
h was at first faulty, but he was never embarrassed, 
d his audiences found a peculiar charm in his 
reign accent and the unusual phrases which he so 
jquently employed. But the blackboard was his 
failing assistant, and as he talked, his quick hand 
jstrated the subject with sketches so simple and so 
>ar that the lecture could almost have been compre- 
nded by these alone. 

He had left his collections behind him, but almost 
imediately new collections began to grow, and a new 
^clentific factory" was established in his house in 
ist Boston. He always spoke of his specimens as 
naterial for Investigation," for to Agassiz every 
one and every insect held a story filled with wonder 
.d romance which only patient study could unfold, 
is house, his garden, and even his pockets were filled 
th "material"; as an illustration may be mentioned 
e occasion when Agasslz, on being asked by a lady 
:ting beside him at a dinner-party to explain the 
fference between a toad and a frog, instantly pro- 
iced, to the amazement of his companions, a live 
Dg and a live toad from his pockets. 
It was but natural that Agassiz should find In Har- 
ird University, the oldest and most celebrated seat 
learning in the United States, the congenial atmos- 
lere which his work required. And It Is equally nat- 
al that the great University should recognize In 



52 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Agassiz a master-teacher who would prove a most de 
sirable addition to its faculty. Agassiz had already 
found in the United States a cordial welcome and a 
deep appreciation. The year 1848 marks definitely 
the beginning of the last phase of his life, for in this 
year the death of his wife in Carlsruhe and his accept 
ance of the chair of zoology and geology at Harvard 
led him to abandon forever his thought of some day 
returning to his native land. 

Two years later his marriage to Elizabeth Cabot 
Cary of Boston bound him still closer to the land of 
his adoption, and the remaining years of his life were 
years of consistent activity filled with growth and 
honor. An expedition to Lake Superior in 1848 was 
followed by a trip to study the Florida reefs in 1850 
and a visit to the Mississippi River in 1853. During 
these years his collections were rapidly increased, and 
already he was planning for the establishment at 
Harvard of a great Museum of Natural History. 

Life in Boston and in the clear atmosphere of the 
University must have been highly stimulating to a 
man of Agassiz's sensitive susceptibilities. Emerson, 
Holmes, Hawthorne, Motley, and Longfellow were 
his companions, and a group of brilliant younger 
minds surrounded him in his work. 

From abroad now came honors the larger part of 
which Agassiz saw fit to decline. In 1852 the Prix 
Cuvier was awarded to him in recognition of his work 
on fossil fishes. A call to the University of Zurich was 
declined in 1854; an< 3 during the four years between 
1857 and 1 86 1 he three times declined a call to the 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 53 

chair of palaeontology at Paris, perhaps the highest 
scientific honor which the world could afford. But 
neither honors nor wealth could tempt him. His af 
fection for America and his love for his work in that 
appreciative country held him fast. In 1861 he be 
came a naturalized citizen of the United States. 

Rarely, if ever, was there a man of more lovable and 
winning personality. "Everybody sought his society, 
and no one could stand before his words and his 
smile. The fishermen at Nahant would pull two or 
three miles to get him a rare fish." Rich and poor, the 
educated and the uneducated, all paid homage to his 
magnetic personality. Physically large, his genial 
countenance and smiling eyes made friends with 
everyone. And at the same time those laughing brown 
eyes, that seemed made only for pleasure and jollity, 
"saw more than did all our eyes put together; for he 
looked, but we only stared." 

The cornerstone of the great Museum of Compara 
tive Zoology at Harvard was laid in 1859, and in the 
years that have followed, the collection has grown to 
proportions which make it a worthy memorial to its 
celebrated founder. Into this edifice Agassiz freely 
poured the material which he had collected on his 
many expeditions, including a wealth of specimens 
gathered in 1865 and 1866, on an expedition to Brazil; 
and in 1871 and 1872, in a specially designed ship, the 
Hassler, he rounded the Horn, and with dredging ap 
paratus collected along both coasts of the South 
American continent valuable data concerning the 
fauna and physical conditions which were found at 



54 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

great depths. Meanwhile, although constantly ne 
glectful of his own income, he devoted his rare per 
sonal persuasion to the cause of obtaining the large 
sum necessary for the building and maintenance of 
the Museum. And it is to him alone that credit is 
due for the money that was thus raised, at a cost to 
science of priceless hours of his own all-too-limited 
time and energy. 

The intellect of Agassiz was gigantic, and yet he 
combined with his mighty forces an unfailing patience 
with dull or ignorant people. His craving for know 
ledge was equaled only by his ability in imparting it to 
others. Nothing that he achieved was for himself: his 
all was attained that he might give it to the world. 
"Good teachers are not commonly original investiga 
tors; and original investigators often lack both the 
will and power to tell other people what they know." 
To this Agassiz was perhaps the greatest exception 
that the world has ever seen. The scientific world will 
ever remember Louis Agassiz for his discoveries in 
zoology, for his vast researches in the study of fishes, 
and for his glacial theories and subsequent revela 
tions in geology; but the world at large will hold him 
perhaps more dear as the master who brought to the 
United States the old sciences of an older civilization 
and, infusing them with his own vitality, became to 
the people of America the first and the great teacher 
of the history of the mighty book of nature, which be 
fore his time had remained closed to them. 

On December 14, 1873, Louis Agassiz died at Cam 
bridge, in the shadow of the walls of the great Univer- 



LOUIS AGASSIZ 55 

sity of which he had become so loyal a member. 
Above his grave a simple granite boulder from the 
glacier of the Aar, sent by loving friends in the land of 
his birth, gives in its brief inscription the name of a 
man whom the United States proudly claims as citi 
zen, and whom the world honors as a man. 



IV 
CARL SCHURZ 

Born in Liblar, Germany, 1829 
Died in New York City, 1906 

THERE are few Americans who can say that they 
were born in a castle, for the castle-born children ol 
Europe of whom history tells us have been the chil 
dren of royalty who have by virtue of their birth 
inherited the privileges of a ruling clan and have ever 
handed down these same privileges to succeeding 
generations. Europe was for centuries ruled by the 
castle-born. Supreme was the tradition of royalty. 
And strange in contrast Is the story of a baby of 
humble parentage who by chance first saw the light 
through the high windows of a castle wall, and lived 
to become an honored citizen of a land where royalty 
is unknown and all men are equal. 

In the great republic of the United States, men 
who had become wearied of the old order of things 
had built a nation on another plan. Here there was no 
royalty; It was not where or how a boy was born that 
counted, but what kind of a man he became. To all, 
equal opportunities were offered. It was not who you 
were, but what you were, that counted; and that is 
what counts to-day in the United States. 

The first President, George Washington, was a 
farmer. Abraham Lincoln was born in a log-cabin 



CARL SCHURZ 57 

and taught himself to read and write in the early days 
of his hard boyhood. Woodrow Wilson was a school 
teacher. Rich men and poor men have risen to the 
presidency; men with the blood of many nations in 
their veins. The log-cabin or the castle birthplace has 
counted little; high posts of honor have been won 
by all. 

Carl Schurz was born In a castle at LIblar, a small 
German town a few miles distant from the great city 
of Cologne, in the year 1829. But in spite of his castle 
birthplace, Carl was not of royal blood, but a poor 
boy. Like the fathers of so many other distinguished 
sons, the elder Schurz was a schoolmaster; but so 
small was his pay that he and his family came to live 
with his wife's father, a tenant farmer, in the ancient 
castle at Liblar. And In this castle was born the boy 
Carl who, in the many years of his useful life, was 
destined to fill high places in the great Republic be 
yond the seas. 

Life in the great castle was much the same In 1829 
that it had been for hundreds of years, for changes 
came slowly in the peaceful, beautiful German coun 
try. At harvest-time the young and old, with a spirit 
of mutual helpfulness, gathered the harvest; and at 
other times they met for Rhineland festivals, with 
much happy visiting of relatives, with games and con 
tests of strength and skill. In the big stone hall of the 
castle the "folk" assembled for their meals at long 
wooden tables, and ate their soup or porridge out of 
deep wooden bowls with wooden spoons. During the 
day the women spun flax at their spinning-wheels and 



5 8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the men worked in the shops, the stables, and the 
fields. 

In the twilight hours the boy listened to stories of 
the " French Times," when the great Napoleon passed 
through the land with his mighty army before the 
Russian campaign, and later returned, his army shat 
tered and defeated. He heard of the Cossacks, un 
couth, dirty, bearded men on shaggy ponies, who fol 
lowed Napoleon's retreating army, and how they stole 
and plundered and ate the tallow candles in people's 
houses. And he heard, too, of the great men whose 
fame was not created by the sword Schiller, Goethe 
Tasso, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Rousseau. Perhaps the 
stories of these famous men of history inspired the boy 
in later years to become himself a leader among men. 
When he was still very young, Carl was sent to 
school; and twice a week he walked, each way, to a 
town four miles distant, to study music. It was dur 
ing these early days that Carl first heard his family 
talk about the United States, "that young Republic 
where the people were free, without kings, without 
counts"; and it is probable that the impressions of 
this republican state of free citizens received in his 
early years had something to do with the directing of 
his ambitions in later life. 

When Carl was nine years old his father, believing 
that the boy had outgrown the little school at Liblar, 
sent him to a school at Briihl, where he continued his 
various lessons and the study of music. The next year 
Carl was taken by his father to Cologne and entered 
the "gymnasium," a school which bears some re- 



CARL SCHURZ 59 

semblance to the high school in the United States. 
Here he studied history, Latin, and German, and 
particularly the art of expressing himself in writing 
with clearness and ease a study which perhaps 
contributed most to his success in coming years. 

But now a new influence began to enter the life of 
the boy. During the first fifty years of the nineteenth 
century, that part of Germany which extends along 
the banks of the Rhine had seen three governments. 
First, it had been ruled by the Archbishop Electors; 
then it was conquered by the French and had felt 
French rule both under the French Republic and the 
Empire; and last of all, it had been taken from the 
French and annexed by Prussia. The Rhenish people 
perhaps liked the Prussian rule least of all; for the 
Prussians governed well, but with a stern discipline 
that could never be understood by the careless, 
pleasure-loving people of the Rhine. 

Among the younger people, and particularly those 
of the better-educated class, among whom Carl found 
himself, there was a restless spirit and the feeling that 
great changes were necessary. Young men believed 
that the hard Prussian rule must be overthrown and 
give place to a new form of constitutional govern 
ment, with free speech, free press, and free political 
institutions. How this was to be done, no one knew; 
but Carl and his companions talked much with each 
other of their dreams of liberty and unity for the 
Fatherland, and eagerly read every newspaper and 
pamphlet that fell into their hands, to keep them 
selves informed of the tendencies of the day. 



60 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

It was the ambition of the elder Schurz that his son, 
after graduation from the gymnasium, should enter 
the famous university at Bonn. But only a year be 
fore Carl's graduation the father met with financial 
disaster which swept away the small savings of years 
and left him practically penniless. Carl was seven 
teen years old and was entering his last year in the 
gymnasium; by this disaster all his hopes and ambi 
tions seemed swept aside. His father, bankrupt, was 
in a debtor's prison. Hurriedly, Carl took leave of his 
teachers and friends and returned home, where, by 
much hard effort, he succeeded in securing his father's 
release. 

The question now arose whether or not he must 
abandon his studies and take up a new course of life. 
Next to his family, his ambition for a literary career 
was the greatest factor in his life. By leaving the 
gymnasium his hopes seemed destroyed beyond rem 
edy; for the examinations for the university were very 
difficult and practically required this final year of 
study and preparation. Fortunately, his father in a 
few months became able again to provide for himself, 
and Carl immediately undertook the difficult task of 
preparing to pass the graduation examinations at 
Cologne, which must be accomplished before he could 
enter the university. By hard work this was finally ac 
complished, and Carl entered the university at Bonn. 

German universities have always been known for 
their student societies. Too many of these groups of 
students have had a reputation only for drinking and 
senseless dueling; but there are others that have been te 



CARL SCHURZ 61 

marked by a distinct scientific, literary, or musical 
tone. Of the latter class was the Buschenschaft Fran- 
conia at Bonn ; its members were not men of wealth or 
noble birth, but in later years they found high places 
in the world's history. And of this society Carl Schurz 
was elected a member. It was a group of young men 
who were destined greatly to affect his entire life. 

But of even greater importance in their effect on the 
life of Carl Schurz were certain political conditions in 
Germany. Early in the century, after Napoleon's ill- 
fated campaign into Russia, the King of Prussia and 
the Russian Tsar had called the German people to 
arms, promising them a new national union, free polit 
ical institutions, and the abolition of arbitrary gov 
ernment. The victories of Leipzig and Waterloo broke 
the power of Napoleon, but the years that followed 
did not see the promises of the Prussian King fulfilled. 
In 1814 the Congress of Vienna created an alliance 
among the German States, but the organization was 
composed of kings and princes; there was no popular 
representation and no mention of civic rights, a pop 
ular vote, a free press, freedom of assembly, or trial by 
jury all of which were rights desired by the people. 

Then followed a bitter period of studied repression 
of every liberal tendency, and the advance toward lib 
eral institutions almost ceased. In 1840, Frederick 
William IV ascended the Prussian throne. It was at 
first believed that he sympathized with the liberal and 
patriotic hopes of the people; but it soon became evi 
dent that the same policy would be continued; the 
demands of the people were refused, and the press 



62 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

censorship was increased. Discontent with general 
conditions, and particularly with absolute kingly 
power and police despotism, soon became general, 
and in 1847 the King convoked a "United Diet" in 
Berlin, to consist of members of all the provincial diets. 
But only in appearance was this a popular assembly, 
and no reforms were, or could be, enacted by it. 

Disappointment and discontent followed, and from 
the mass of people revolutionary agitators arose, de 
manding liberation from the rule of a domineering 
King. "God, Liberty, Fatherland " was the motto of 
the people. Black, red, and gold were the colors of the 
revolutionists. 

Schurz was at the beginning of his university train 
ing in the year 1848. It was a year of tremendous im 
port. In France King Louis Philippe had been driven 
out and the republic established. The day seemed to 
be dawning for the establishment of " German Unity," 
or, in other words, a "constitutional form of govern 
ment on a broad democratic basis." 

The Revolution soon took actual form. In Cologne 
the people met in the public squares to formulate their 
demands. All through South Germany the revolu 
tionary spirit flamed forth. And in Austria a similar 
revolution demanded liberty and citizens' rights. 

Meanwhile, great activity in the university town of 
Bonn burst forth, and Professor Kinkel, representing 
the citizens, declared that the liberties and rights of 
the German people must be granted by the princes or 
taken by force by the people. In Berlin, the King 
wavered under the flood of petitions which poured in 



CARL SCHURZ 63 

on him, and actual fighting between the citizens and 
the troops, in March, 1849, resulted in the temporary 
acquiescence of the King in the popular demand. But 
the victory of the people was not followed up and 
proved to be short-lived. 

Soon, throughout Germany, the realization began 
to spread that the revolution of March, which had 
seemed so glorious, would amount to little unless ac 
tion was promptly taken. Soon also it became appar 
ent that the King would give nothing but promises, 
and that the people would be no better off than 
before. Accordingly, in Frankfurt, Eisenach, Bonn, 
Dresden, and other cities, the revolutionists planned 
to cast off the yoke of the King, and many bloody 
fights took place between the people and the mon 
arch's Prussian bayonets. 

In all this Schurz and his friend Kinkel played an 
active part. But the power was on the side of the 
King, and one by one the small bands of revolutionists 
were defeated by the trained Prussian troops. Schurz 
had fought with credit in several engagements, and 
finally, with many other revolutionists, had taken ref 
uge in the fortress of Rastatt, which for three weeks 
held out against the Prussian army that besieged it. 
Finally the fortress was compelled to surrender, and 
at great peril, "Schurz and two companions escaped 
through a sewer and, crossing the Rhine by night, 
sought refuge on French soil 

The Revolution had ended in disaster and Schurz 
was an exile from his native land, to which he dared 
not return. He had fought for the cause of freedom; 



64 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

he had lost all. But his life was saved. Kinkel and 
others of the revolutionists, less fortunate than 
Schurz, were condemned to life-imprisonment. 

But although Schurz was free, the knowledge that 
Kinkel was imprisoned inspired in him the resolve to 
aid his friend in escaping. It was dangerous work, 
for it was necessary for Schurz to return in disguise to 
Germany, where, had he been recognized, he would 
immediately have suffered KinkePs fate. But the loy 
alty of Schurz to his friend was rewarded by the final 
accomplishment of his plans; and after many exciting 
adventures Kinkel succeeded in his escape from prison 
by lowering himself at night from a window in his cell, 
by a rope which Schurz had smuggled in to him. And 
a few days later the two men succeeded in reaching 
the seacoast and took passage on a ship to England. 

For several years Kinkel and his family lived in 
London, where a large number of political refugees 
had gathered. It was a brilliant gathering, and in 
these many people of varied accomplishment Carl 
Schurz found much to interest him. Here, too, it was 
that Schurz found, in the daughter of another Ger 
man exile, the young woman, Margaretha Meyer, 
who a few months later became his wife. 

The year 1852 was covered by a gloomy cloud. 
Throughout all Europe the Liberal movement seemed 
suppressed. In France, Louis Napoleon had made 
himself Emperor and was recognized by England; 
the French Republic was gone. In Italy, Mazzini had 
fought in vain for a united country under a free 
government. Kossuth had fought for the national 



CARL SCHURZ 65 

independence of Hungary, but had gone into exile, 
a defeated man. In Germany, revolutionists had met 
a similar fate. To Carl Schurz there seemed but one 
direction in which he might turn. Far beyond the 
Atlantic the United States of America offered a re 
publican government where the people ruled them 
selves by popular laws, free to live their lives and 
express their thoughts, free from the yokes of kings 
and princes. In August, 1852, Schurz and his young 
wife sailed for New York. 

The first task which Schurz set for himself on his 
arrival was to learn in the shortest possible time to 
speak, read, and write the ^English language. Chiefly 
by reading the newspapers this task was soon accom 
plished, and in a very few years there were not many 
Americans who could claim a more exact and fluent 
command of their own language than he. 

Schurz had come to the United States a poor man 
and an exile, but he was fortunate in possessing a 
number of friends who lived in the larger Eastern 
cities, and through them he obtained many valuable 
introductions and rapidly widened his acquaintance 
ship, particularly in political and literary circles. 

Since the founding of the Republic slavery had ex 
isted in the United States. Particularly in the South 
ern states thousands of negro slaves furnished practi 
cally the only labor on the vast plantations and in the 
homes of the owners. Against the slowly widening in 
fluence of slavery a small band of anti-slavery men 
were opposing by every means at their command the 
growth of this condition so utterly opposed to the 



66 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

laws of freedom and civilization. "I saw the decisive 
contest rapidly approaching," wrote Schurz, "and I 
felt an irresistible impulse to prepare myself for use 
fulness, however modest, in the impending crisis : and 
to that end I pursued with increased assiduity my 
studies of the political history and the social workings 
of the Republic, and of the theory and practical work 
ings of its institutions." 

Schurz had German friends and relatives living in 
Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. It seemed to him 
that, by visiting them, he would be enabled to see 
more of the country and study at first-hand the actual 
"real America," which he must thoroughly under 
stand if he was to take a helpful part in the impending 
struggle. 

During the year 1854, Schurz visited all of the large 
cities of the Middle West, and particularly the states 
of Wisconsin and Missouri, which were largely settled 
by Germans. The West attracted him, and after care 
fully considering many places, he determined to settle 
in the pleasant little village of Watertown, Wisconsin. 

In the years of his residence in Watertown, Schurz 
took up the law as his profession, and at the same time 
began actively to participate in local politics. The 
large German population in the Western states was 
a voting power that was of great importance, and 
Schurz's high standing and reputation made it only 
natural that he should soon be chosen as their spokes 
man and leader. 

These were stirring days. The great question of 
slavery was uppermost. With the entrance of new ter- 



CARL SCHURZ 67 

ritory into the Union, the question flamed forth with 
greater violence : would the new states be free states 
or slave states? Would the slave-holders or the anti- 
slavery men rule the land ? Would slavery or freedom 
dominate ? 

Schurz flung himself into politics and the anti- 
slavery party of the North. With clear vision he real 
ized that slavery must be destroyed, but that the 
United States must be preserved; a separation of the 
slave states from the Union could not be tolerated; 
all must be united in freedom. 

Rapidly the reputation of Carl Schurz as a political 
speaker spread beyond Wisconsin. He was called to 
address meetings in neighboring states, and finally he 
was summoned even to Boston, to address a great 
meeting in the historic Faneuil Hall. In Illinois he 
met Abraham Lincoln, soon to hold the office of Presi 
dent of the United States; everywhere he encountered 
the leaders in the great Republic, men of every party 
and every type of character; the men who were guid 
ing the steps of the nation. 

Throughout the campaign for the election of Abra 
ham Lincoln to the presidency, Carl Schurz gave his 
entire energy as a speaker and organizer, and as a re 
sult soon became recognized as a person of influence in 
the victorious party. During these months the friend 
ship of Schurz and Lincoln was strengthened, and 
other ties with other men were made, which were to 
have a strong influence, not only on Schurz' s own life, 
but on the history of his adopted country. 

On April 12, 1861, the storm which had so long been 



68 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

brewing between the Northern and Southern states 
broke with the capture of Fort Sumter, in Charleston 
Harbor, by the Confederate forces. For some time the 
government of the so-called Confederate States had 
attempted to open negotiations with the Federal au 
thorities for a peaceful separation. But the North had 
stood firm in the position that at all costs the Union 
must be preserved. With the fall of Sumter came the 
opening of the Civil War, which for four long years 
plunged the land in blood. 

Three days later President Lincoln issued a procla 
mation calling for 75,000 volunteers; and on June 10 
the Northern troops were repulsed at Big Bethel, and 
July 21, were routed at Bull Run. The long war had 
begun. During these first months of the war Schurz 
threw himself into the work of organizing in New 
York a regiment of German cavalry; but his services 
were considered of even greater value in another kind 
of activity, and a few weeks later he was on his way to 
Madrid, as United States Minister to Spain. 

There is probably no other country in the world 
where such a rapid and spectacular progress would be 
possible. Ten years before, Carl Schurz was an exile 
from his native land, a poor newcomer to a strange 
country. Now, after this brief period, he was to return 
to Europe, the powerful representative of a great 
republic. 

Early in 1862 Schurz returned to the United States. 
During the months which he had spent in Spain he 
had rendered valuable service in keeping the Spanish 
government informed of the exact condition of affairs 



CARL SCHURZ 69 

In the United States, and Impressing upon the Span 
ish authorities the desirability of maintaining friendly 
relations with the North, and an interest in the cause 
of freedom. 

But Schurz was restless in a position of security, no 
matter how great its importance, while others were 
risking their lives for their country's cause. "I be 
came convinced," he said, "that, In such times, the 
true place for a young and able-bodied man was in the 
field, and not in an easy-chair." Schurz laid his case 
before Mr. Lincoln, and the President agreed to ac 
cept his resignation and gave him a commission in the 
army. 

At the outbreak of the war the Regular Army was 
very small, its officers few. Of these officers many had 
gone over to the army of the Confederate States. 
There was great need of officers for the vast volun 
teer armies which were being formed, and it became 
necessary to select men from civil life, on account of 
their general intelligence, and give them appointments 
as officers. Few of these had any military experience or 
particular knowledge of military science. Because of 
these conditions, and also because of his brief military 
experience in the revolutionary army of 1849, Schurz 
was appointed a brigadier-general for immediate 
service. 

His experience during the Civil War included many 
of the famous campaigns and battles, and In all of 
them he played an active and important part. Dur 
ing the year 1862, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson 
were captured by the Union forces, and on March 9, 



7 o AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the Monitor, designed by John Ericsson, defeated the 
Confederate ironclad Merrimac. Early in April Gen 
eral Grant won the victory of Shiloh, and on the 24th 
of the same month Admiral David G. Farragut ran 
the forts below New Orleans with his ships, and cap 
tured the city. In the East during this same period, 
the Confederate army, under General Robert E. Lee, 
pressed forward toward the city of Washington, but 
was finally thrown back across the Potomac River 
after the battle of Antietam. 

In the following year, 1863, the Confederate army 
under General Lee again marched North, but was de 
feated, July 1-3, at the great battle of Gettysburg. 
In this battle Schurz took part, and from the crest of 
Cemetery Hill watched the Confederate infantry of 
General Pickett make their brave charge against the 
Union forces. Fifteen thousand strong, in a long close 
line, with bayonets gleaming in the sunshine and flags 
waving in the breeze, the gray-clad soldiers of the 
Confederacy appeared from the dark shadows of the 
woods and came steadily across a mile of open fields. 
Under a tremendous fire from the Union artillery the 
gray line slowly melted as it advanced, leaving the 
soft green of the meadow flecked with gray-clad 
bodies of dead and wounded. Closing the gaps, they 
came steadily on, now lost behind a low rise of ground, 
now again In view, their flags still flying above them. 
Then, within rifle-range, a cloud of smoke lifted like 
fog from the Union guns, and as it floated off on the 
light wind, the Union soldiers saw the remnant of 
Pickett's brave band slowly retreating from the field. 



CARL SCHURZ 71 

Although more than a year of war was to follow, the 
strength of the Southern offensive was shattered. 

On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, and in 
November came the victories of Lookout Mountain 
and Missionary Ridge. In the following year were 
other victories in the battles of the Wilderness and 
Spottsylvania. Another drive of the Confederates 
against Washington was attempted by General Early, 
but he was defeated by General Sheridan in three bat* 
ties and was forced to withdraw. Then came the cap 
ture of Atlanta and General Sherman's famous march 
through Georgia to the sea. On the water were 
achieved the victory of the Kearsarge over the Con 
federate steamer Alabama, and Admiral Farragut's 
successful passage of the forts at Mobile Bay. In 
April of the year 1865 came the complete surrender of 
the armies of the Confederacy. The Union was pre 
served; slavery was destroyed. 

With the ending of the war, Schurz began again to 
take an active part in the political life of the nation, 
and for a time devoted himself to a study of the 
perplexing difficulties which surrounded the recon 
struction of the South, impoverished by years of war 
and economically ruined by the emancipation of the 

slaves. 

In the autumn of 1867 he again visited Germany. 
The high position which he now held in the great Re 
public assured him of a welcome, but the attentions 
which were heaped upon him were a particular tribute 
to the man who had once fled by night. Bismarck, 
"The Minister" of Germany, honored him by invit- 



72 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

ing him to long conferences, in which he eagerly ques 
tioned Schurz concerning the great war in which he 
had taken part, and asked many questions about the 
political and social conditions of the Republic of which 
Schurz had become a citizen. 

On his return to the United States, Schurz was 
elected to the United States Senate, representing the 
great state of Missouri, where he had now taken up 
his residence. " I remember vividly the feelings which 
almost oppressed me when I first sat down in my 
chair in the Senate Chamber. Now I had actually 
reached a most exalted public position, to which my 
boldest dreams of ambition had hardly dared to as 
pire. I was still a young man, just forty. Little more 
than sixteen years had elapsed since I had landed on 
these shores a homeless waif, saved from the wreck of 
a revolutionary movement in Europe. Then I was 
enfolded in the generous hospitality of the American 
people, opening to me, as freely as to its own children, 
the great opportunities of the new world. And here I 
was now, a member of the highest law-making body of 
the greatest of republics.' 5 

But a still greater honor was to come. With the 
election of President Hayes in 1877, Schurz became 
the Secretary of the Interior of the United States. In 
this high position his ability found ample room for 
exercise, and the reforms which he in large measure 
effected, both in the civil-service system of appoint 
ment by which men were placed in government 
positions as a result of examination on their merits, as 
opposed to their appointment regardless of merit but 



CARL SCHURZ 73 

as a political reward and in the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs, were of unusual value to the nation. 

On leaving the Department of the Interior at the 
close of President Hayes's administration, Schurz was 
confronted by an almost embarrassing number of po 
sitions for his future occupation. For a time he oc 
cupied an editorial position on the New York Evening 
Post; but he still continued to take an active and im 
portant part in the politics of the day. For some years 
after his retirement from the Post he devoted him 
self to literature, and produced, among other books, 
a life of Henry Clay which won high commendation. 

After a brief business episode, he again returned to 
the field of journalism, and for six years contributed 
weekly the leading editorial to Harper's Weekly. Once 
again he visited Europe; but old age was growing 
heavy on his shoulders, and on his return to the 
United States he retired each year a little more from 
the active fields of politics and journalism which 
had so long held him, and to which he had so gladly 
contributed. 

On May 14, 1906, surrounded by his children, the 
end came. "Es ist so einfach zu sterben" (it is so sim 
ple to die), was his farewell to those about him. As he 
lived, so did he die, simply and unafraid. 



THEODORE THOMAS 

Born in Essen, Germany, 1835 
Died in Chicago, 1905 

CIVILIZATION is a condition of organization; in a na 
tion it is a name for progress and enlightenment. Lit 
erature, art, music, and science are measures of civili 
zation; so also are agricultural, industrial, and social 
progress. All men contributing to the advancement 
of civilization are benefactors of mankind. The in 
ventor, the artist, the physician, the scientist, the 
manufacturer, the writer, the explorer, and the musi 
cian, all contribute to human happiness and advance 
ment. 

No man who lives for himself alone can add to the 
progress of the world. Only they who unselfishly have 
lived for others deserve the gratitude of their fellow 
men. And it is encouraging that, in almost every case, 
those men who have accomplished most have sooner 
or later received their high rewards. 

Probably no nation in all the world has given so 
much in so short a time to civilization as the United 
States. The reason is not far to seek, for in no other 
country have such opportunities to accomplish their 
fine desires ever been offered to men of ambition and 
ability; never has there been so fair a field in which 
each man might rise as high as his own strength would 
carry him. 



THEODORE THOMAS 75 

Since the world began, music has been a part of the 
very life of every nation. As labor in the shop and 
field and mine have produced the material things so 
necessary for the health and comfort of the body, so, 
for the development of the mind and for the happi 
ness of all people, have painters, sculptors, and mu 
sicians contributed their fairest conceptions, that life 
might be more beautiful and the world a better place 
to live in for all mankind. 

In the older European countries music has been 
handed down for centuries from father to son. In con 
ditions where music has so completely become a part 
of life, great musicians from time to time have lived 
and left their lasting contributions. In the older civ 
ilizations there was a fertile field long cultivated for 
the ever-increasing growth of music. 

In the United States, however, another condition 
existed. Here was a new civilization, transplanted by 
early settlers from beyond the sea, Here there was no 
existing civilization developed through centuries. It 
was a land to which had come men and women from 
every nation in the world, seeking freedom from the 
rule of kings and a place where they might live in 
peace and equality, regardless of their birth. Each 
brought with him the civilization of his native land. 
But much was lost in the migration; there was no 
place, at first, for many elements of European civili 
zation in the busy life of the new world. 

For half a century, from the glorious day when the 
United States cast off the yoke of a European mon 
archy and became a republic, there was small time m 



76 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the lives of Americans for music, art, and all the other 
finer elements of civilization. It was necessary that 
men should explore and open up the vast rich country 
in which they lived. They must build cities and plant 
fields with grain; they must dig deep min.es and find 
coal and metals, and they must cut timber from the 
forests for the needs of the nation. Also, they found 
it necessary to develop the government of their new 
nation, and form from the wilderness, where once only 
the Indians dwelt, new states to increase the union of 
the great Republic. 

But through all these years of labor there remained 
In the minds of men an appreciation of those other 
more beautiful factors of civilization; memories of an 
inheritance that were like dreams from which these 
pioneers waited to be awakened by someone who, at 
the right time, would come to them and, understand- 
ingly, would point out the way. The love of music 
was in their hearts. 

Meanwhile, in the town of Essen, in Germany, by 
the North Sea, was born, on the eleventh of October, 
1835, a boy, Theodore Thomas, who in a few short 
years was destined to bring to the great United States 
that appreciation of music of which it was now so 
thoroughly unconscious. 

The boy's father was the Stadtpfeifer, or town mu 
sician, of Essen. It was a position of honor, for the 
Stadtpfeifer played on all important occasions, and 
many great musicians have held this title. 

From infancy the boy showed an aptitude for mu 
sic. At the age of five he played the violin in public, 



THEODORE THOMAS 77 

and he spent as much of his play-time as he could with 
his father's orchestra, playing his violin and reading 
all the new music he could find. 

When he was ten years old, the family emigrated to 
America. It was the land of promise, and a bigger and 
brighter future seemed to await them in the vast free 
United States than in the sleepy German village where 
for generations their ancestors had been born and 
lived and died. 

This was before the days of fast steamships; then 
the passage of the Atlantic was made in sailing ves 
sels, and often the voyage lasted as many weeks as 
now it is measured by days. The Thomas family 
found passage on an American vessel; and it was six 
long weeks after their departure that they landed, on 
a hot July morning in the year 1845, in the city of 
New York, 

There was little or no real music in the United 
States. A few people played the piano or cornet, there 
were a number of brass bands, and some of the thea 
tres boasted of a few musicians, but orchestras and 
good music were unknown. 

The Thomas family was a large one, and the father 
worked far into the night, playing in theatre orches 
tras, to provide for his wife and children. It was only 
natural that young Theodore, with his musical talent, 
should be called upon to help; and so almost from the 
beginning the boy labored with the father, playing 
his violin in various theatres, at a dancing-school, and 
wherever he could earn an honest dollar. 

Three years later the father enlisted in a navy band, 



78 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

and the boy followed him, playing second horn to the 
father's first. But a year later, both father and son 
left the navy; and as the former was now able alone to 
provide for the family, young Theodore found him 
self free to carry out his own plans and lay the foun 
dations for his future. 

With a little box of clothing, his violin, and a bundle 
of posters announcing a concert by "Master T-T," 
Theodore set out alone to try his fortune with the 
world. For a year he wandered through the Southern 
states, giving his concerts in hotel dining-rooms, in 
schoolhouses, or wherever he considered it possible to 
gather an audience. As the people arrived, Theodore 
would stand at the door and take in the money; then, 
when he thought that all who were coming were pres 
ent, he would hurry to the front of the hall and begin 
the concert. 

A year later he was back again in New York, poor 
in pocket but rich in experience of the world. "I was 
then fifteen years old," he later wrote, "and somehow 
had recognized the necessity of studying if I expected 
to accomplish anything in this world. But what? I 
did not know, of course, that a general education was 
needed, or even what it meant. My first idea was to 
become a virtuoso, so I began to practise and play in 



concerts." 



Shortly after his return to New York, the fifteen- 
year-old boy was engaged as the leading violinist in 
the orchestra of a German theatre. But this experi 
ence gave him more than an actual living; for here he 
became acquainted with the plays of the great Ger- 



THEODORE THOMAS 79 

man poets and masters of literature, and he also wid 
ened his musical horizon far beyond the rather limited 
boundaries which had up to that time confined it. 

During the next two or three years his musical edu 
cation prospered. Great singers and musicians began 
occasionally to visit America: Jenny Lind, Sontag, 
Mario, Grisi, Bosio, and Alboni. Thomas played 
everywhere in concerts and operas, and this gave him 
constant opportunity to hear these artists under the 
best of conditions. "The pure and musical quality of 
their art/' he has said, "was of great value in forming 
the taste of an Impressionable boy at the outset of his 
career." The influence of this experience did much to 
prepare him for his own triumphs in coining years. 

There were at that time no real orchestras in Amer 
ica. An orchestra meant to Thomas a selected organ 
ization of skilled musicians "sufficiently subsidized to 
enable it to hold the rehearsals necessary for artistic 
performances, Its object and aim to be to attain the 
highest artistic performance of master-works." Of the 
existing orchestras of the time all were of negligible 
quality, and their leaders mere "time-beaters," in 
stead of true musicians. 

But at this time such a leader appeared for a short 
period in the circle of Thomas's life. Karl Eckert, the 
leader of the orchestra accompanying Mademoiselle 
Sontag, appeared in New York, and Thomas secured 
a position as one of the first violinists in the orchestra, 
a position from which he was soon promoted to leader 
of the second violins. Thomas gave his best effort to 
his new work. It was a place of responsibility, and the 



8o AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

boy was young, but he saw his opportunity, grasped 
it, and held it. 

The following year Thomas won promotion to Kon- 
zert-meister, or leader of the first violins; and here his 
extreme genius became the more apparent, for he was 
now the leader of men many of whom were old enough 
to be his father. This was the definite beginning of 
his career, for the experience of playing in a well-or 
ganized orchestra gave him a thorough schooling, not 
only in his duties as Konzert-meister but and this 
was of particular value to him in the practical bus 
iness side of orchestral management. 

In 1853 his education was further broadened by a 
year in the orchestra of Jullien, a famous European 
conductor. This was the first time that he had heard 
or played in a large and complete orchestra, and the 
result was that he was now ready to step out from the 
ranks and begin to develop his ability as an individual 
and a leader. 

For about twelve years the New York Philharmonic 
Society had struggled, against popular indifference, 
to create a source of real music in the community. In 
1854 Thomas was elected a member. He was nine 
teen years old. For thirty-six years he was destined to 
hold a more or less close association with it, first as 
violinist and later as its leader. 

In the year 1855 William Mason, "a refined, sin 
cere and highly educated musician/' organized a quar 
tette of string players. Thomas was invited to play 
first violin, although he was the youngest member of 
the quartette. Mason played the piano, and the other 



THEODORE THOMAS 81 

members were Carl Bergmann, J. Mosenthal, and 
G. Matzka. It was an association of true artists, and 
its influence was of great consequence to Thomas in 
the opportunity which it afforded for the expression of 
his art and in the lasting friendships which it formed. 

The concerts which were given by the quartette 
were known as "chamber concerts," and the pro 
grammes included only the best music for the string 
quartette, or for a sonata or trio with piano accom 
paniment. Three mornings a week were given up to 
rehearsals, and as only six programmes were arranged 
for the year's repertoire, the deep interest and enthu 
siasm of all the members is apparent. "It was this 
exhaustive study of master-works, especially those of 
Beethoven, continued through fourteen years, which 
gave Thomas his mastery of the string choir of the 
orchestra, and his profound insight into the classical 
school of music." 

The first experience of Theodore Thomas in con 
ducting an opera is characteristic of the man and il 
lustrates his fine self-confidence and his instant ac 
ceptance of opportunity. One evening he came home 
from his work and settled down in an easy chair for a 
few hours of rest and relaxation. A few blocks away, 
at the Academy of Music, an opera (Halevy's "Jew 
ess") was to be sung. The house was filled and an 
impatient audience waited for the curtain; but the 
conductor was ill, and there was no one to take his 
place. Someone thought of Thomas, and a messenger 
was sent to ask him if he would conduct the opera. 
Thomas had never before conducted an opera; he was 



82 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

wholly unfamiliar with the one in question. But his 
answer was an immediate "I will." And he did, with 
complete success. 

But the limitations of the opera, the Philharmonic, 
and the quartette could not satisfy him, and in 1862, 
for the first time, he announced an orchestral concert 
under his own direction. This was the first "Thomas 
concert." The orchestra consisted of about forty 
players. In the programme it is interesting to read the 
titles of two compositions which had never before 
been played in America. Here was the intimation of 
his life-policy of giving his American audience the best 
current music, often before it was completely recog 
nized in the Old World. 

"In 1862 I concluded to devote my energies to the 
cultivation of the public taste for instrumental music. 
Our chamber concerts had created a spasmodic inter 
est, our programmes were reprinted as models of their 
kind, even in Europe, and our performances had 
reached a high standard. As concert violinist, I was at 
that time popular, and played much. But what this 
country needed most of all to make it musical, was a 
good orchestra, and plenty of concerts within the 
reach of the people." 

After several seasons of occasional concerts, Thomas 
determined to organize an orchestra of his own. There 
was no endowment, there were no backers. All the 
responsibility of organization and finance fell on 
the shoulders of the young leaden The orchestra was 
called the " Theodore Thomas Orchestra," and it was 
truly his, in name and fact. With a firm determina- 



THEODORE THOMAS 83 

tion to bring the highest form of music to the people 
and to teach them thoroughly to enjoy it, he began a 
regular series of evening concerts; and after a season 
of moderate success, he inaugurated a series of Sum 
mer-Night concerts, given in the open air in a park in 
the city. 

The life-work of Theodore Thomas was begun; the 
little violin-player from an obscure foreign village was 
fast assuming the musical leadership of a nation a 
nation to which he gave musical standards and an un 
derstanding of his art. 

In the next few years a number of important events 
brightened the steady work which had become now 
necessary to his success. The leadership of the Brook 
lyn Philharmonic Society was awarded him, a posi 
tion of high honor which enabled him to employ his 
own orchestra in a series of twenty additional con 
certs. His marriage to Miss Minna L. Rhodes, an 
event which brought into his life much happiness and 
an influence which did much to hasten the develop 
ment of his rare abilities, occurred during this period. 
Finally, in 1867, a short trip to Europe became possi 
ble; and at London, Paris, Munich, Vienna, Dresden, 
and Berlin he listened to the performances of the most 
celebrated European orchestras and gained much by 
comparison of them with his own. Moreover, on his 
return to the United States, he was enabled to give 
to his audiences the most modern music played as he 
had heard it under the leadership of the composers 
themselves. 

The thought has often occurred, Why did not 



84 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Theodore Thomas himself become a composer? To be 
sure, on a few occasions compositions of his own were 
given to the public, but this happened only during his 
earlier career. The answer may be quoted in his own 
words: "As a young man I wished to be a composer, 
but circumstances forced me into the executant's ca 
reer. My creative vein was worthy of development 
had I had the time for it, but it fell short of genius, 
and I believed I could do more for my art and my 
country by familiarizing the people with the literature 
already created than by adding to it myself. The ex 
acting nature of my work in the orchestra required all 
my time and strength, and made another kind of seri 
ous work impossible; and as long as I could not give 
the time necessary to produce compositions which 
would be satisfactory to myself, I preferred to let it 
alone altogether." 

The winter concerts and the Summer-Night con 
certs in the Central Park Garden were continued; but 
the revenue from the winter concerts fell short of the 
sum which the expenses of the organization required, 
and in 1868 Thomas decided to give them up and play 
in New York City in the summer only. During the 
winter months he planned to carry his orchestra about 
the country, and by playing in all the larger cities, not 
only assure himself of larger houses, but at the same 
time widen the scope of the musical education which 
he longed to afford the entire country. 

Beginning in the year 1869, for twenty-two years 
Thomas toured the length and breadth of the land. 
The Southern states and New England heard his rare 



THEODORE THOMAS 85 

programmes; San Francisco and Montreal anticipated 
with eagerness his next arrival; and even to the new 
frontier lands of Texas the tireless conductor led his 
little company of musicians. For years identified with 
New York City, he now became a national figure, an 
individual who had given himself to and was claimed 
by the entire country. 

Among the first cities to give him recognition were 
Boston and Cincinnati. In the former city a musical 
critic wrote: "The visit of this famous orchestra has 
given our music-lovers a new and quick sensation. 
Boston has not heard such performances before. We 
thank Mr. Thomas for setting palpably before us a 
higher ideal of orchestral execution." In Cincinnati 
music had long been an important part of the life of 
the city. " We have not seen at any time audiences so 
wrought upon as those that attended the concerts of 
Theodore Thomas 3 '; and "the finest orchestral music 
that has ever been given in this city," wrote the news 
papers. It was the same everywhere: wherever the 
orchestra played, praise unstinted was accorded. 

During this period of his life Thomas devoted a con 
siderable part of his energies to the conducting of" fes 
tivals" in the large cities of the country. These festi 
vals were elaborately planned musical programmes, 
in which the orchestra and often several hundred 
voices took part. The festivals were in some cities 
annual affairs, in which the local singing societies 
cooperated. The festivals held in New York, Cincin 
nati, and Chicago were particularly popular, and their 
success and popularity may be truly said to have been 



86 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

almost entirely due to the untiring work of their 
great conductor. 

But success and recognition in the lives of great 
men rarely come without compensating failures and 
disappointments; and in the life of Theodore Thomas 
were many days when failure seemed to be his chief 
reward. The great Chicago fire in 1871, which de 
stroyed almost the entire city, caused him a financial 
loss that he was hardly able to bear. Then, in 1876, 
came the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, com 
memorating the hundredth anniversary of the found 
ing of the United States. A great musical programme 
was planned and Thomas was honored with its entire 
direction. But the crowds visiting the exposition did 
not appreciate the concerts, and to the deep disap 
pointment of Thomas and the committee behind the 
plan, they were so poorly attended that it was soon 
necessary to abandon them. This was a hard blow to 
Thomas. He had lost much money on account of the 
Chicago disaster, and now this new calamity in 
creased the losses which he could ill afford. Financial 
ruin faced him. His large and valuable musical 
library, his only asset, was seized by the sheriff to 
pay the debts of the orchestra. The library consisted 
of musical scores, collected throughout a lifetime, 
without which he could not conduct his orchestra. 
Only the kindness of a loyal friend, who bought up the 
library and gave it back to Thomas several years later, 
saved him from complete disaster. As it was, he 
might well have gone into bankruptcy and settled his 
debts; but his fine sense of honor prevailed, and he 



THEODORE THOMAS 87 

preferred to assume his responsibilities in full and 
meet them in their entirety in later years. 

In 1878 he received an offer to establish and direct 
a college of music which a number of influential and 
wealthy men proposed to found In the city of Cincin 
nati. Thomas gladly undertook the directorship, and 
a splendid institution developed under his wise guid 
ance; but the scheme which he planned was greater 
than the board of directors desired; and, seeing that it 
would be impossible for him to carry out his complete 
plans, he resigned from his office in 1880 and returned 
to his former work as an orchestra leader. 

Another trip to Europe brightened the gloom which 
had surrounded the recent years of disappointment, 
and the recognition which now began to be accorded 
him helped to bring back his spirit of optimism for the 
future. The conductorship of the London Philhar 
monic Society was offered to him; a high honor which 
only his love for his adopted country forced him to re 
fuse. In the same year the honorary degree of Doctor 
of Music, "by way of recognition of the substantial 
service which he has rendered to musical culture In 
the United States," was conferred upon him by Yale 
University. Other universities later conferred similar 
degrees, and of the many honors which came to him 
there were none which he more highly prized. 

The next few years were years of triumph, for dur 
ing this period Thomas devoted himself to the manage 
ment of great musical festivals In New York, Cin 
cinnati, and Chicago, and finally, in 1885, conducted 
a festival tour from New York to San Francisco. 



88 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Another financial setback came now, hard on the 
heels of this period of success, for he was induced to 
accept the musical leadership of an American opera 
company, an enterprise which seemed to contain 
every necessary element for success. But after a short 
life the entire project proved itself a failure, and once 
again Thomas returned to the orchestra, which for 
the rest of his life he was destined never again to leave. 
In 1889 the death of his wife came as another blow 
which seemed impossible, for the time, to bear. But a 
new and final period in his life was already dawning, a 
period of recognition and accomplishment. 

Theodore Thomas had once said : " Chicago Is the 
only city on the continent, except New York, where 
there is sufficient musical culture to enable me to give 
a series of fifty successive concerts." In 1881 a per 
manent orchestra was established in Boston, and Chi 
cago became ambitious to follow the example. The 
leadership of the new Chicago orchestra was offered to 
Thomas. New York had in a large measure failed to 
fulfill his expectations. But what New York would 
not provide, Chicago offered. The opportunity could 
not be refused, and Thomas accepted. 

Conditions for the founding of a permanent Chi 
cago orchestra were far from favorable. There was no 
building suitable for orchestral purposes; the cultiva 
ted class of the population was small, and, moreover, 
the city did not afford musicians of a quality suited 
for the formation of the orchestra. But Thomas 
throve on adversity. From New York he imported 
sixty musicians, of whom half a dozen had been mem- 



THEODORE THOMAS 89 

bers of the old New York Thomas Orchestra, and with 
thirty selected Chicago players he completed the nec 
essary quota of ninety men. Concerts were given in 
buildings unsuited for this kind of entertainment, un 
der the most trying conditions, but the public was 
taught to undertsand the worth of the great undertak 
ing by the most carefully arranged programmes. 

Success came at last. For a period the expenses of 
the orchestra were carried by a number of liberal and 
far-sighted citizens; but finally it was decided to find 
out how sincerely such music was actually desired by 
the people. A general appeal for an endowment fund 
was made, the fund to be invested In a suitable home 
for the orchestra. 

The result was far beyond the wildest hopes of the 
projectors of the plan. In less than a year almost 
$700,000 was subscribed by over eight thousand sub 
scribers, from every corner of the vast city, from every 
class of society, from rich and from poor. 

It was the realization of the dream of Thomas's 
youth. The home of the Thomas Orchestra was dedi 
cated In 1904. This building, contributed by the 
people that the music which he had brought into their 
lives might become a part of their existence, is his 
monument, which will long endure. But more lasting 
than those walls of stone Is the recognition which his 
tory will accord to him who in his way made the 
world a better living-place for his countrymen. 

Theodore Thomas died in the year that followed the 
dedication of the home of his orchestra. The fourteen 
final years of his life had found in Chicago the material 



90 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

appreciation which he deserved. A second marriage 
this time to Miss Rose Fay brought him its hap 
piness. With no precedents, no traditions, and no ex 
perience of others to guide him, he had done the kind 
of work for music in the United States that the first 
settlers had done when they ploughed their first fur 
rows in the wilderness. He had blazed the trail; he 
had opened the way that others might follow on. 

" German-born, associated with German musicians 
all through his life, meeting them daily, and living as 
it were in a German atmosphere, yet he was the 
strongest of Americans in sentiment, disposition, feel 
ing and patriotism. Many a time have I heard him 
resent foreign slurs upon American institutions, and 
defend the national government's policy against its 
critics. His love for the United States, where he had 
lived from boyhood, and his respect and admiration 
for the broad-minded views of its people as well as 
their public spirit, was deep, hearty, and sincere." 
Such was Theodore Thomas in the estimation of one 
who knew him well. 

His creed was simple, but it was a creed from which 
he never deviated. "Throughout my life my aim has 
been to make good music popular, and now it appears 
that I have only done the public justice in believing, 
and acting constantly on the belief, that the people 
would enjoy and support the best in art when con 
tinually set before them in a clear and intelligent 



manner," 



VI 

ANDREW CARNEGIE 

Born in DunfermUne, Scotland, 1835 
Died in Lenox, Massachusetts, 1919 

THE little town of Dunfermline In Scotland has for 
centuries been famous for its weaving. For genera 
tions have the sturdy inhabitants devoted their lives 
to the looms. And here, in this quiet and humble cor 
ner of the busy world, was born, on the twenty-fifth 
of November, 1835, a small baby whom his parents 
named Andrew, who was destined to become one of 
the richest men that the world has seen, a citizen of 
the United States, a world philanthropist, and a true 
captain of industry. So simply was Andrew Carnegie 
born Into the tremendous nineteenth century. 

Andrew's father was a weaver of damasks, as had 
been his father and grandfathers for generations back 
in the Carnegie history; and the boy was doubtless 
expected by his parents to carry on the established 
vocation of the family. But, as so often happens, cir 
cumstances unforeseen and impossible to anticipate 
abruptly changed the whole life-work of a community, 
and In the change the small boy's life was directed 
into a new channel which was destined to bring him 
the greatest material rewards. The Carnegies wove 
with hand-looms. Suddenly, Invention gave the pow 
er-loom to the world. Gone immediately was the 



92 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

demand for the now more costly product of skilled 
and patient fingers. The swift machines destroyed a 
trade to build an industry, and in the destruction the 
Carnegie family was swept into new work and a new 
environment. 

With his only means of earning a living destroyed, 
necessity compelled the elder Carnegie to seek occu 
pation somewhere beyond the limits of the quiet 
Scotch town. Across the Atlantic a great new repub 
lic was just reaching its young manhood. Its fast- 
sailing clippers had made the Stars and Stripes of its 
flag known on every sea, and tales of the daring Yan 
kee skippers had brought to complacent England 
a rude awakening from her peaceful sense of maritime 
supremacy. Within its boundaries even greater de 
velopments were taking form under the firm hands of 
the Americans. A rich inland empire was disclosing 
wealth beyond dreams of men: mines of iron and coal 
and various metals, forests unexplored and seemingly 
limitless, millions of rich acres unturned by the 
ploughshare and destined in time to come to feed the 
world. Already minds of vision were organizing rail 
roads to bring together these riches and to make 
them accessible to the nation as a whole. All over 
the world people were turning from war-scarred and 
time-worn nations oppressed by the rule of kings to 
this free land of promise. Men and women and little 
children crossed the broad Atlantic to live happily 
in a country where men ruled themselves by self- 
imposed laws, and where education gave to all an 
equal opportunity. And with these went also the 




- 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 93 

Carnegie family, to add their sturdy strength to the 
great Republic. 

There were four in the little family the father, 
mother, and two boys, Andrew and Thomas* Andrew 
was thirteen years old and his brother four when this 
great life-changing event occurred too young to 
realize its significance or to find in it much else but 
the romance and adventure of a sea-voyage and the 
excitement of seeing new places and strange faces. 
There was a considerable cotton manufacture in Alle 
gheny City, Pennsylvania, and there the Carnegie 
family settled, in a neighborhood known as Barefoot 
Square in a part of the city called Slabtown. Andrew 
was old enough to work, and money was needed to 
meet the higher costs of living in this new land; so 
both father and son found work in the same cotton 
mill, Andrew as a bobbin-boy at a wage of $1.20 a 
week. 

This was the first step in Andrew's career, and other 
steps came with what seemed a marked rapidity. 
But it was not that unusual opportunities confronted 
the lad; on the contrary, nothing could have seemed 
to offer a more slender promise than the arduous and 
elementary work which he gladly accepted. The 
promise lay rather in the boy; and, as is ever the case, 
Andrew was in those early years proving the old tru 
ism that the right kind of a boy rises above adversity 
and grows strong by battling with discouragement. 

Andrew was soon promoted, at a slight increase in 
pay, to be engineer's assistant in the factory. For 
twelve long hours each day he shoveled coal under the 



94 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

boilers and ran the engine. His pay was now $1.80 a 
week, and all of it went into the family purse; for not 
only was all the money earned by father and son re 
quired for the household expenses, but Mrs. Carnegie 
added her mite by taking in washing from the neigh 
bors. And it is interesting to recollect that of these 
neighbors one named Phipps, a shoemaker, had a son 
Harry, a chum of Andrew's, who also, in later years, 
became a man of wealth and importance in the na 
tion's business affairs. 

A year later Andrew again made an advance; for, 
leaving his work in the cellar of the factory, he took a 
|pb as disjrjct messenger boy for the telegraph com 
pany, at $3.00 a week. Now came an opportunity 
which his conscientious study enabled him to grasp. 
Ever since he had obtained his job with the telegraph = 
company he had studied telegraphy and spent all his 
spare time in practice. "My entrance into the tele 
graph office," he once said, "was a transition from 
darkness to light from firing a small engine in a 
dirty cellar into a clean office with bright windows and 
a literary atmosphere; with books, newspapers, pens, 
and pencils all around me, I was the happiest boy 
alive." One morning, before the telegraph operator 
reached the office, a message was signaled from Phila 
delphia. Andrew was always early at work, and al 
though the boys were not supposed to know anything 
about the instruments or allowed to touch them, he 
jumped to the receiver and took down the message 
with accuracy. His resourcefulness and willingness 
to assume responsibility were immediately recognized, 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 95 

and he was promoted to operator, at a salary of $300 
a year. 

In addition to his study of telegraphy Andrew, dur 
ing this period, became a constant reader of good 
books. A gentleman living in the neighborhood had 
opened his private library to Andrew and a few other 
boys every week-end, and gave them permission to 
take certain books home with them. Andrew made 
full use of the opportunity. " Only he who has longed 
as I did for Saturdays to come," he said in after years, 
"can understand what Colonel Anderson did for me 
and the boys of Allegheny, Is it any wonder that I 
resolved, if ever surplus wealth came to me, I would 
use it imitating my benefactor?" 

The boy's earnest attention to his work was not 
long unnoticed, and the divisional superintendent of 
the Pennsylvania Railroad, hearing of his quickness 
and enthusiasm, appointed him railway operator in 
his own office, increasing his salary to $35 a month. 
A second opportunity to assume responsibility oc 
curred. During the superintendent's absence from 
the office early one morning, an accident was reported 
on one of the lines, which tied up the road and threat 
ened a costly blockade. Andrew at once took charge 
of the situation, and knowing exactly what the super 
intendent would do in such a situation, wrote out the 
necessary orders, to which he signed the superintend 
ent's name, to set the trains again in motion, and 
straightened out the whole difficulty. When his chief 
arrived, Andrew reported what he had done. The su 
perintendent said nothing to him, but to the president 



96 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

of the railroad he wrote that he "had a little Scotch 
man In his office who would run the whole road if they 
would only give him a chance." 

When Andrew was sixteen his father died, and the 
boy became the head of the family; and it was at this 
time that he made his first investment, although it 
was necessary, with his mother's help, to borrow the 
required money. 

" One day Mr. Scott [the superintendent of his divi 
sion], who was the kindest of men and had taken a 
great fancy to me, asked if I had or could find five 
hundred dollars to invest. . . . I answered promptly : 

"'Yes, sir, I think I can. 3 

"'Very well,* he said, 'get it. A man has just died 
who owns ten shares in the Adams Express Company, 
that I want you to buy. It will cost you sixty dollars a 
share. I will advance the remaining hundred dollars.' 

"The matter was laid before the council of three 
that night and the oracle spoke. 'Must be done. 
Mortgage our house. I will take the steamer in the 
morning for Ohio and see uncle and ask him to ar 
range it. I am sure he can.* Of course her visit was 
successful where did she ever fail? 

"The money was procured; paid over; ten shares of 
Adams Express Company stock was mine, but no one 
knew our little home had been mortgaged * to give our 
boy a start.' 

"Adams Express then paid monthly dividends of 
one per cent, and the first check arrived. . . . 

"The next day being Sunday, we boys myself 
and my ever-constant companions took our usual 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 97 

Sunday afternoon stroll in the country, and sitting 
down in the woods I showed them this check, saying, 
'Eureka! I have found it. ? 

"Here was something new to all of us, for none of 
us had ever received anything but from toil. A return 
from capital was something strange and new." 

Concentrating his entire efforts on his work, An 
drew learned all that there was to know about train- 
dispatching and began to improve on the existing 
methods. Time passed, and Colonel Scott becoming 
vice-president of the railroad, Andrew promptly 
stepped into the position of division superintendent 
which Colonel Scott vacated. Carnegie was now 
twenty-eight years old and by careful saving and in 
vestment he had acquired a tidy capital A chance to 
invest In one of the first sleeping-car companies had 
been accepted by him, and a large profit was ulti 
mately made out of the investment, although at the 
time Carnegie had to borrow the money for the stock 
of a banker in Altoona and repay the loan at the rate 
of $15 a month. A fortunate speculation In oil, which 
his savings permitted him to make, gave him his first 
real profit, and put him immediately In a position to 
play with larger affairs in a larger way. 

In the year 1865 Carnegie was thirty years old. As 
division superintendent of the Pennsylvania he had 
won for himself a place from which he could view a 
wider horizon; a large field of opportunities was visi 
ble. Also, he had saved his money; he was In a posi 
tion to seize an opportunity when it appeared. 

During the great Civil War Carnegie had been put 



98 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

in charge of the government telegraph and had done 
well the important work which fell to him. But with 
the close of the war and the beginning of the period of 
reconstruction, he saw a greater field for the exercise 
of his business abilities. Iron was in great demand. 
Carnegie had already been active in the foundation of 
a mill for the production of structural iron; for three ' 
years the company had stood on the brink of failure; 
but Carnegie was not a "quitter/ 9 and he hung on to 
his faith. Now, with his brother and several other 
partners, he formed the Union Iron Mills. The profits 
were enormous. Vast railroad development through 
out the country required rails and structural iron. 
Steel rails were worth from $90 to $100 a ton. The 
manufacture of steel seemed to offer even greater 
prospects than iron, 

In 1868 Carnegie visited England. In the early 
days of the nineteenth century England controlled the 
iron business of the world; and when Carnegie made 
his first trip abroad, there were fifty-nine Bessemer 
Steel plants in Europe and only three in the United 
States. To-day, the United States produces over two 
fifths of all the steel and iron in the world, and the be 
ginning of this great American industry can be found 
in the enterprise of the son of the poor Scotch weaver- 
Carnegie had faith in steel. By the Bessemer pro 
cess steel of high quality was economically produced 
by decarbonizing cast iron by forcing a blast of air 
through the mass of metal when it is in a molten con 
dition. Carnegie saw the merits of this process, 
brought the idea home with him, and adopted it in his 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 99 

mills. The vindication of his faith was immediate. In 
an incredibly short time he had obtained control of 
seven great plants In the vicinity of Pittsburgh: the 
Homestead, the Edgar Thomson, the Duquesne Steel 
Works and Furnaces, the Lucy Furnaces, the Key- 
stone Bridge Works, the Upper and Lower Union 
Rolling Mills. In the town to which he had come a 
poor lad from a foreign land, Carnegie was now as 
suming the proportions of a giant of industry. 

Nothing was too good or too costly for the perfect 
ing of the industry. "Carnegie was the first steel 
maker in any country who flung good machinery on 
the scrap heap because something better had been in 
vented. He was the first to employ a salaried chemist, 
and to appreciate science In its relation to manufac 
turing. In his early days he was the biggest borrower 
In Pennsylvania; and when the profits grew large 
they were poured back, to fertilize the soil from whence 
they grew. ... So it is clear that, primarily, the aim 
of Andrew Carnegie was not to make large dividends 
or to sell stock, but to establish a solid and enduring 
Industrial structure. First of all, he was a business 
builder; and the present unequaled prosperity in our 
iron and steel trade Is largely due to the fact that 
American steel-makers have adopted the Carnegie 
policy of ranking Improvements above dividends." 

To protect the supply of coal which his vast steel 
manufacture now required, in 1889 Carnegie joined 
forces with Henry C. Frick, who dominated the coke- 
making industry. As a result, his companies soon 
"owned and controlled mines producing 6,000,000 



ioo AMERICANS BY APOPTION 

tons of ore annually; 40,000 acres of coal land, and 
12,000 coke ovens; steamship lines for transporting 
ore to Lake Erie ports; docks for handling ore and 
coal, and a railroad from Lake Erie to Pittsburgh; 
70,000 acres of natural-gas territory, with 200 miles of 
pipe-line; nineteen blast furnaces and five steel mills, 
producing and finishing 3,250,000 tons of steel annu 
ally. The pay-roll of the year exceeded $18,000,000." 

Gradually consolidating his interests, Carnegie 
formed in 1890, the Carnegie Company, with a paid up 
capital of $160,000,000, and in 1899 his interests were 
merged into the Carnegie Steel Company. Although 
still as active in affairs as ever, Carnegie now deter 
mined to retire from active business. In an address 
delivered at Pittsburgh he gave his reasons. "An 
opportunity to retire from business came to me un 
sought, which I considered it my duty to accept. My 
resolve was made in youth to retire before old age. 
From what I have seen around me, I cannot doubt the 
wisdom of this course, although the change is great, 
even serious, and seldom brings happiness. But this is 
because so many, having abundance to retire upon, 
have so little to retire to. I have always felt that old 
age should be spent, not as the Scotch say, in * making 
mickle mair/ but in making good use of what has been 
acquired; and I hope my friends will approve of my 
action in retiring while still in full health and vigor, 
and I can reasonably expect many years of usefulness 
in fields which have other than personal aims," 

The "opportunity" to which Carnegie referred was 
the merging, in 1901, of the Carnegie Steel Company 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 101 

into the United States Steel Corporation. For his per 
sonal interest Carnegie received $420,000,000, 

Freed from business, the iron-master turned to fol 
low the paths to which his idealism had constantly 
called him. Always a reader and a student of books, 
he now found himself able to make, through public 
libraries, books everywhere available, and in various 
cities and towns he contributed for library buildings 
more than $60,000,000. Still further to advance edu 
cation and bring its advantages to all who sought it, 
he made other gifts, consisting of $24,000,000 to the 
Institute at Pittsburgh, $22,000,000 to the Carnegie 
Institute in Washington, and $10,000,000 to the Uni 
versities of Scotland. At the time of his death in 1919, 
it was estimated that he had given away to education 
and other worthy causes over $350,000,000. 

Behind this generous distribution of his great 
wealth was a desire to distribute his fortune before his 
death. "The day Is not far distant," he once said, 
" when the man who dies leaving behind him available 
wealth which was free to him to administer during 
life, will pass away * unwept, unhonored and unsung/ 
no matter to what use he leaves the dross that he can 
not take away with him. Of such the public verdict 
will be: 'The man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced.' " 

Many other worthy causes held Carnegie's interest 
from his retirement from business to his death. Of all 
his public activities, he took perhaps greatest interest 
in the cause of world peace. He believed in arbi 
tration instead of war, and aided in the organiza 
tion of various leagues and commissions to that end. 



102 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

But although Carnegie was one of the world's most 
generous givers he had no desire to abolish poverty, 
"We should/ 5 he said, "be quite willing to abolish lux 
ury, but to abolish honest, industrious, self-denying 
poverty would be to destroy the soil upon which man 
kind produces the virtues which enable our race to 
reach a still higher civilization than it now possesses." 
Not to help men were his millions given, but to help 
men to help themselves. In his long list of philanthro 
pies, education is the goal. "Nothing for the sub 
merged," was his motto; but for the boy or man who 
honestly strove to force his way upward Carnegie 
would give all. 

During the latter years of his life honors came to 
him. He was made Lord Rector of the University of 
St. Andrews, Edinburgh, in 1903, and received from 
the same university the degree of Doctor of Laws in 
1905. In 1907 France made him a Commander of 
the Legion of Honor, and in the same year the Queen 
of Holland conferred on him the Order of Orange- 
Nassau. By his adopted country he was held in high 
regard, and among other honors was made an hono 
rary alumnus of the University of Princeton. 

Simple, as his parents had been before him, in spite 
of his vast wealth which opened the world to him, 
Carnegie desired that the world should know his 
pride in his own hard struggle and in the poverty of 
his birth. On the crest which he designed for himself is 
a weaver's shuttle, indicating his father's occupation, 
and there is a coronet turned upside down, surmoun 
ted by a liberty cap, and supported by American and 



ANDREW CARNEGIE 103 

Scots flags. The motto is "Death to Privilege." To 
radical minds there is food for thought in this strange 
crest and its motto, for they who cry death to priv 
ilege often mean death to ambition, and without am 
bition the son of the weaver would never have be 
come the world benefactor who made himself able to 
give wealth by the hundreds of millions for the good 
of humanity. 

On the day following his death, in the summer of 
1919, a great New York newspaper began an account 
of his life with these paragraphs, a final tribute to an 
American by adoption: 

"Andrew Carnegie, the outstanding figure of nine 
teenth-century Industrialism, will go down through 
the ages as the very personification of Triumphant 
Democracy/ 

"Overcoming almost insuperable obstacles by his 
unusual energy and sheer tenacity of purpose, An 
drew Carnegie rose from a humble messenger-boy to 
wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. He rose from 
obscurity to a unique position in the world. 

"Yet despite the tremendous effort put Into every 
thing he undertook, Andrew Carnegie's meteoric rise 
was due entirely to the opportunity offered to all in a 
land of freedom and of free speech. This fact he em 
phasized in all his writings, and in all his speeches. 
Moreover, It had a profound effect upon the course he 
adopted for the administration of his vast fortune, for 
the development of mankind, and the furtherance of 



science." 



VII 
JAMES J. HILL 

Born nearGuelph, Ontario, Canada, 1837 
Died in St. Paul, Minnesota, 1916 

A HUNDRED years ago Napoleon, with the sword, 
carved out of Europe an empire. To accomplish this, 
the lives of men by the thousand were sacrificed. 
With misery and bloodshed its boundaries were ex 
tended, and in a few years it had vanished into the his 
tory of the past. In like manner, for centuries have 
men of dominance changed the maps of the world, 
with armies and the sword. 

But within the memory of men who live to-day an 
other kind of empire-builder gave to the new world an 
empire of another kind. With peace and prosperity, 
year by year, he developed its vast square miles of ter 
ritory. With rails of steel he pushed its boundaries 
each year still further into the wilderness. Each year 
he opened up to the world new acres of fertile fields, 
rich mines, and the tremendous natural resources of a 
virgin country. It is an empire that time can never 
destroy. It is an empire that has brought prosperity 
to the world. 

All this was done by a poor Canadian boy, born in a 
log-cabin at the edge of the forest in the Province of 
Ontario, in the year 1837. James Jerome Hill was his 
name. 



JAMES J. HILL 105 

On his mother's side the boy Inherited the sturdy 
characteristics of Scotch ancestry; on his father's side 
he found the brilliance and spirit of the Irish race. 
The soil was the sole source of their livelihood. Born 
In a wilderness where dark forests still sheltered 
wolves and deer, and where the Indians still roamed, 
the boy, from earliest childhood, received impressions 
hat moulded his life's destiny. He was born to see 
man subdue the wilderness, to see his struggle with 
the forces of primitive nature, to see his inevitable vic 
tory. As his own father hewed his few acres from the 
forest, so in the coming years was James J. Hill to re 
deem vast wilderness territories and give them to the 
use of man. 

Characteristically, the father's foresight sought 
more than an ordinary frontier education for his eld 
est son; and with equal eagerness the boy grasped at 
f the opportunities that were offered him. At eleven he 
left the little district school where his education had 
begun, and entered an academy in a near-by village, 
conducted by an Englishman of college education. 

There were no libraries, and in that remote out- 
skirt of civilization newspapers were rarely seen. But 
a few books in the Hill household gave the growing 
boy an insight into literature, and the long hours of 
out-of-door labor which filled that part of the day 
when he was not at school developed him physically 
and gave him a foundation of good health which in 
later years made possible his tireless energy. 

When he was fourteen his father died, and realizing 
the responsibilities which were now resting on his 



106 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

shoulders, the boy gave up his hope of a professional 
career and for four years supported his mother and 
her household with such small wages as he earned as 
clerk in the village store. 

For several years, in the imaginative brain of the 
boy had grown the hope of some day crossing the 
Western plain and sailing across the Pacific to the 
Orient. Eagerly he had read all he could find that told 
him of those far countries. To his imagination they 
seemed to hold a definite promise of opportunity. He 
had but little money; but he had faith in himself and 
in his future. Each year the longing grew until, when 
he was eighteen, he could stand it no more and his 
new life began. 

Without money, friends, or influence, he crossed the 
boundary into the United States, and after visiting 
several of the large Eastern cities, made his way to St. 
Paul, then a small town situated at the head of navi 
gable water on the Mississippi River. North and west 
the unbroken prairie and the forests were peopled 
only by the Indians; buffalo roamed the prairies. 
Only along the navigable rivers were the cultivated 
farm-lands of the settlers. 

The young man had no money; it was necessary for 
him to devote himself for a time to some profitable oc 
cupation. He was eighteen years old, but he was will 
ing to turn his halnd to any honest work, and his vivid 
imagination inspired him to work hard so that his 
future hopes might be realized. All of the business 
activity of St. Paul centred on the levees along the 
river, where merchandise brought up the Mississippi 



JAMES J. HILL 107 

by boat was unloaded for shipment by ox-teams to the 
outlying settlements. 

Hill was attracted by this kind of business. The po 
sition of shipping clerk in the office of the agents of 
a steamboat company was open, and he grasped it. 
The work was varied: he received incoming and out 
going freight, ran. the warehouse, inspected its con 
tents, kept an open eye for new business, and when la 
bor was scarce, helped the men load and unload the 
steamboats. On this early experience was to be built 
the great triumph of coming years. 

Not content with performing well his daily work, 
young Hill spent his evenings largely in studying the 
more technical and theoretical aspects of the trans 
portation business and the possibilities, dependent 
upon adequate transportation, of the development of 
the great unexplored Northwest. Moreover, he saved 
his money, realizing that a time would come when his 
savings, however small, might prove vital to the grasp 
ing of an opportunity. 

The year 1864 marks the close of the second period 
of his education. The great Civil War had torn the 
country. Hill, eager to serve his adopted land, had 
tried to enlist; but an accident in childhood which had 
resulted in the loss of an eye made it impossible to 
pass the physical examination. Although just beyond 
his majority, the boy had become a man in more than 
years. His steady attention to his work and the long 
hours of study had put him into a position from which 
he could now step fearlessly forward. He was a man 
of affairs. 



io8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

The practical business knowledge and the business 
relationships which he had formed made him desire to 
be more completely his own master. It was not that 
he was tired of clerking; it was rather that he realized 
that the time had come to strike out for himself. To 
this resolve his young wife, Mary Theresa Mehegan, 
whom he had married in 1864, lent all her power of 
love and encouragement. A true partner in all her 
husband's plans, Mrs. Hill shared every struggle 
along the path of success. 

The young business man became interested in 
many things. Far to the north was the great Red 
River country, and he began to identify himself with 
the traffic which was carried on between this territory 
and St. Paul. He developed his warehouse business; 
he became a dealer in salt, coal, cement, and lime; he 
transferred freight, and, above all, he studied the de 
velopments of railroading, with a realization that in 
the freight-car and the locomotive was the secret of 
the transportation of the future. Fuel particularly in 
terested him, for he believed that, as the railroad train 
would supersede the steamboat, so would coal sup 
plant wood as a motive power. 

A year after resigning his clerkship, he entered into 
the first of the many partnerships which he formed 
during his life. His savings were now an asset of real 
value, and the $2500 which he had put by made the 
partnership possible. The partners planned to do a 
general transportation, commission, and storage busi 
ness, and in 1866 he began his enlarged activities. 

The following year Hill secured a contract with the 



JAMES J. HILL 109 

St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company to supply it 
with fuel. It was his first real introduction to the rail 
road business, and on it were based the labors and suc 
cesses of the coming years. The railroad in the North 
west was still in its infancy; transportation depended 
largely on the rivers and lakes. 

During the next few years, Hill studied the trans 
portation problems of the Northwest with constantly 
increasing faith in his belief that, by means of ade 
quate transportation, it was possible speedily to de 
velop this vast region for the use of man. More and 
more the idea appealed to him. His romantic vision 
led him on in his thoughts far beyond the boundaries 
which surrounded the mental vision of his fellow citi 
zens, and his years of study and varied business expe 
rience enabled him, step by step, to turn his dreams 
into realities* 

Steadily the railroads had extended westward from 
the Great Lakes. The end of the Mississippi River 
transportation was within sight. But from St. Paul to 
the rich lands of the Red River only the clumsy carts 
and the late flatboats carried the merchandise which 
the settlers required. Present needsof adequate trans 
portation were great; future requirements were enor 
mous beyond comprehension. Hill went into the prob 
lem, and soon had a regular line of boats, carts, and 
steamers operating between St. Paul and Winnipeg, 
The empire-makrr had begun to build. 

Many are the stories that are told of Mr. Hill 
in those early days. In the heat of summer and in 
the blizzards of the northern winters he personally 



no AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

inspected and carried forward the work which he had 
designed. He endured every kind of hardship. On his 
steamboats in the open months, and with sled and dog 
train in winter, he passed back and forth over the 
route, examining every local condition, studying the 
soil, the climate, and the mineral deposits along the 
way. 

On one late winter trip, when the bitter winds were 
sweeping across the snowy prairies, blotting out every 
landmark and turning the country into a vast white 
sea, he started north with dogs and sleds, and an In 
dian guide for a companion. After a few days the 
nerve of the Indian began to weaken and he urged 
that they turn back. Realizing that unless decided 
action was promptly taken the Indian might be dan 
gerous, Hill ordered him to return, and set out again 
alone, camping by night among the snow-drifts, mak 
ing tea with melted snow, and sleeping wrapped in his 
blankets, with his dogs close about him. 

The first railroad actually to be constructed into 
this new territory was the St. Paul and Pacific. It re 
ceived its charter in 1858, under the name of the Min 
nesota & Pacific Railroad Company, and was planned 
to extend from Stillwater, through St. Paul and Min 
neapolis, west to Breckenridge. Immediately a craze 
for railroads swept the Northwest, and numbers of 
companies were formed; but such frenzied specula 
tion could end only in disaster, and one by one the 
companies fell into bankruptcy. 

With anxious eyes Hill watched the rising and 
waning fortunes of these various railroad enterprises. 



JAMES J. HILL in 

His investigation led him to believe that the St. Paul 
& Pacific offered the greatest possibilities. For seven 
teen long years he worked hard, dreamed his dreams, 
and added to his capital. Then came the opportunity. 
The St. Paul & Pacific had become a wrecked prop 
erty. In it he saw the possibilities for which he had 
worked and saved. With a clear realization of the tre 
mendous step that he was taking, he cast his entire 
fortune into the balance, and with the assistance of 
several associates took over the property, and with it 
its enormous debt of over $33,000,000. James J. Hill 
at last held control of a railroad. 

He had bought a property that was bankrupt and 
was described as "two streaks of rust reaching out 
into the desert"; but in this bold beginning was the 
germ of the great railroad system which, under the 
name of the Great Northern, was to bring him fame 
and fortune in the years to come. 

In the six years that followed, Mr. Hill extended his 
railroad to the Red River and connected with the gov 
ernment line from Winnipeg. By this extension the 
rich lands of Minnesota were opened to immigrants, 
and the great wheat-lands of the Northwest were con 
nected with the markets of the United States. 

The risk that he had taken was justified; but to his 
wife and to the friends who knew him it seemed less 
great, for they knew the character of the man, and to 
know him was to feel complete confidence in any ac 
tion which he determined to take. "All his life it was 
his custom to know all the facts about anything in 
which he was interested, a good deal earlier and a lit- 



ii2 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

tie better than anybody else. For twenty years he had 
lived in the country where the situation had been pre 
paring. For four or five years he had been consumed 
with anxiety to get possession of this property. He 
alone fully understood its present value; he alone con 
ceived its future with any degree of justness." 

But now his dreams of a greater empire began to be 
realized. The St. Paul & Pacific, under his able man 
agement, was earning money and building up a sur 
plus. In 1883 Mr. Hill extended it to Helena, Mon 
tana. And now his belief in the development of the 
Northwest was more strongly confirmed with each new 
step. His vision already pictured a railroad stretching 
across the prairies and over the tremendous barrier of 
the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific and the great har 
bors of Puget Sound. This was no impractical dream, 
but an idea founded on fact and experience; it was a 
great constructive enterprise. 

Ten years later, in 1893, Mr. Hill began actively to 
carry out his plan of extending his railroad from Hel 
ena to the coast. It is hard to realize the tremendous 
difficulties which faced him. On the one hand, the 
Rocky Mountains seemed to block his path; on the 
other, a financial panic made the obtaining of the 
money necessary for the project seem almost an Im 
possibility. But he was undismayed; every obstacle 
was overcome, the road was built, and the empire 
again extended its boundary, this time to the blue 
waters of the Pacific. 

Following the completion of the Great Northern, as 
the consolidation of his various railroads was now 



JAMES J. HILL 113 

called, to Puget Sound, Mr. Hill began his straggle to 
obtain the control of other railroads in order to com 
bine them all into one vast coherent system. The 
Northern Pacific Railroad was the first to be added, 
and then the Burlington System was secured and in 
corporated into the vast development of his plan. 
Fifty years before, the penniless country boy had left 
the small village of his birth to seek his fortune; and 
now, after this life of usefulness, he found himself able 
to pay in cash over ^200,000,000 for the Northern 
Pacific Railway System, 

Mr. Hill believed that the tilling of the soil was the 
true basis of success; that on the soil rested the stabil 
ity of government, and that from it came the wealth 
of the world. To him, his vast systems of railroads 
were the means of opening to settlement regions of 
arable land, and later, when these lands had been cul 
tivated, of connecting them with the rest of the world 
and aifording markets for their produce. To increase 
population and industry along a railroad was the sur 
est way of making the railroad profitable- He be 
lieved that a railroad would be rich or poor along with 
the farmers who cultivated the fields beside its tracks. 

In order to help the thousands of farmers along the 
lines of his railroads to make their farms more profit 
able, Mr. Hill bought, wherever in the world they 
could be best obtained, herds of the finest cattle. 
These he bred on his own farms, and many he gave 
away to the farmers for their own breeding. In all, he 
gave away more than eight thousand head of cattle 
and hogs, and for many years offered prizes for the 



n6 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Hill's two oldest sons were taking an active interest 
in the vast operations of their father. Like him, they 
had traveled extensively, not only over the territory 
reached by his railroads, but also over the still unde 
veloped lands, particularly in northern Minnesota. 

In this way the two younger men became convinced 
of the wealth of iron ore which awaited only proper 
development and railroad connections to yield an 
enormous profit. Mr. Hill saw also the great opportu 
nity that presented itself, and in 1899 personally pur 
chased, for $4,050,000, a great tract of land on the 
now famous Mesabi Range. Immediately, railroad 
connections with the iron country were constructed, 
and arrangements for the shipment of the ore over the 
Great Northern were made. But although this was in 
every respect a private venture, practically discovered 
and entirely paid for by Mr. Hill out of his own pocket, 
his high sense of honor and responsibility refused to 
accept the enormous profits which were soon to be 
realized. Believing that the stockholders of the Great 
Northern, who with their money had stood behind 
him and had in a measure made this new develop 
ment possible, were entitled to a share in the profits, 
he organized this new mining project, and distributed 
its stock, share for share, among them in proportion 
to their investment in the railroad. His refusal to take 
the entire profit is a fine example of the high principles 
which guided his every act and were in large measure 
responsible for his success. 

Throughout his life, Mr. Hill believed that the suc 
cess of men and nations rests entirely on the truest 



JAMES J. HILL 117 

personal liberty. To him the man was always bigger 
than the state. Personal initiative and effort came 
first; what man individually could not accomplish, 
that the state must do; but never should the state as 
sume the development or operation of a project un 
til it was recognized that an individual or a group of 
individuals could not better accomplish the desired 
result. 

The forest, the farm, and the mines, were in his be 
lief the three sources of wealth. But wealth could 
come only from universal industry, honesty, thrift, 
and fair dealing among men. In his own dealings with 
his fellow men, he required those qualities; and, al 
though his keen sympathies invariably responded 
to true distress, he had scant patience with those 
whose false vision saw In wealth honestly acquired a 
fund to be drawn upon for the support of the lazy and 
shiftless. 

He once said: "There are four great words that 
should be written upon the four corner-stones of every 
public building in the country, with the sacredness of 
a religious rite. These watchwards of the Republic are 
Equality, Simplicity, Economy, and Justice." And an 
other time he said, when speaking of a profit-sharing 
arrangement he had made with his employees : " I am 
as well satisfied with that institution as with anything 
I have ever had to do with. I think that its greatest 
value is teaching the men to save. The first two or 
three hundred dollars is the hardest to save, but 
when once you have started, you all know it comes 
easy." 



ii8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

Long before his death Mr. Hill's name had become 
known throughout the civilized world. "His fame 
was international. His services were cosmopolitan." 
Among the many honors which were heaped upon 
him in recognition of his services to mankind was the 
degree of Doctor of Laws by Yale University. In con 
ferring this degree, Professor Perrin, of Yale, said: 

"Mr. Hill is the last of the generations of wilderness 
conquerors, the men who interpreted the Constitu 
tion, fixed our foreign relations, framed the Monroe 
Doctrine, and blazed all the great trails which deter 
mined the nation's future. He has always been an orig 
inal investigator, and we know him now as a man of 
infinite information. Every item of his colossal suc 
cess rests upon a series of facts ascertained by him 
before they had been noted by others, and upon the 
future relations which he saw in those facts to human 
need and national growth. He believes that no society 
can prosper in which intellectual training is not based 
upon moral and religious culture. He is a national 
economist on broad ethical and religious lines; but the 
greatest things in all his greatness are his belief in the 
spiritual significance of man and his longing for the 
perpetuation of American institutions at their highest 
and best." 

His interest in books as a source of education found 
expression in the great public library which he pre 
sented to the city of St. Paul. To him, the trained 
mind was a necessity for success. Whether trained in 
the university or in the active life of the world did not 
matter, so long as it was trained; that was all that 
concerned him. 



JAMES J. HILL 119 

Mr. Hill's reputation in years to come will rest 
chiefly on his career as an "Empire-Builder." But he 
was primarily a railroad manager and a railroad engi 
neer. His knowledge of the great business of trans 
portation made it possible for him to extend his inter 
ests far and wide; no opportunity came near him that 
he did not investigate, and no opportunity which he 
accepted was ever put aside until he had developed it 
to its most perfect completion. 

Physically, he was a man who seemed to express in 
his appearance the force and character which distin 
guished him mentally among men. Slightly under 
average height, with a great head firmly set on square, 
powerful shoulders, he commanded attention. He 
was physically strong, and his powers of endurance, 
which served him so well in the long hard days of his 
early life, remained unimpaired almost to his death. 
His firm mouth was half hidden by a beard, whitened 
in his latter years. His brow was high. His eyes were 
alert and looked out from beneath shaggy eyebrows. 
He was a man of a notable appearance which de 
manded respect and inspired confidence. 

"Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then some 
more work," was one of his frequent explanations of 
his success, and his advice to others. To young men 
he said: "The best advice to a young man, as it ap 
pears to me, is old and simple. Get knowledge and 
understanding. Determine to make the most possi 
ble of yourself by doing to the best of your power use 
ful work as it comes your way. There are no receipts 
for success in life. A good aim, diligence in learning 



120 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

every detail of your business, honest hard work, and a 
determination to succeed, win out every time, unless 
crossed by some exceptional accident or misfortune. 
Many opportunities come to every man. It depends 
upon himself, and upon what he shall make of himself, 
what he makes of opportunities and what they will 
make of him/ 3 

From a poor farmer boy, in fifty years, James J. 
Hill, by the force of his own determination, and the op 
portunities common to all men in the great Republic of 
which he became a citizen, achieved a position among 
the world-leaders of his day. Wealth in millions came 
to him, not by inheritance or a stroke of speculative 
chance, but from the works which he himself had con 
ceived and created. The achievements of his life will 
long be remembered, not only because of their public 
service, but because of their inspiration to other men 
by affording an example of the heights which may be 
reached by hard work, imagination, and determina 
tion to succeed. 



VIII 
AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 

Born in Dublin*, Ireland, 1848 

Died in Cornish, New Hampshire, 1907 

IN a little house in Dublin, Ireland, on March I, 1848, 
was born Augustus Saint-Gaudens. There was noth 
ing in the humble surroundings which first greeted his 
eyes to mark the baby as in any way different from 
the many other babies who may have been born on 
the same first day of March in the ancient Irish city. 
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, however, inherited from 
his father and mother something far greater than 
wealth or name, for in their sturdy, honest blood 
he found that indefinable thing called "character," 
which, throughout his life, led him steadily forward 
along the straight path to fame and honor. From his 
parents he also inherited the qualities which are in 
herent in a romantic people; for his father was born in 
France, in the little village of Aspet at the foot of the 
Pyrenees, and his mother, whose maiden name was 
Mary McGuiness, gave him, the love of the beautiful 
which belongs to Ireland. But perhaps, after all, his 
parents gave him a like inheritance, for Ireland is an 
old nation into which in centuries past has been in 
fused the blood of the proudest families of France 
Irish by birth and French by inheritance, he might be 
called. 



122 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

The elder Saint-Gaudens was a shoemaker, and he 
had met the mother of the future Augustus in the 
shoe store for which he made shoes and where she did 
the binding of slippers. When Augustus was but a 
few months old his parents emigrated to the United 
States and in the month of September in the year 
of his birth he landed in the city of Boston, a place 
which in later years became deeply identified with his 
activities. 

From Boston the little family proceeded to New 
York, where Bernard Saint-Gaudens, the father, set 
up his small business and secured humble lodging 
nearby for his family. And here the young Augustus 
made the beginning of his conscious life, in which, 
of early memories, most vivid were the "delightful 
reminiscences of the smell of cake in the bakery at 
the corner of the street, and of the stewed peaches of 
the German family in the same house." 

Above the door of the shop hung the sign "French 
Ladies' Boots and Shoes"; and within, the shoemaker, 
with his "wonderfully complex mixture of French 
accent and Irish brogue," varied his occupation of 
making shoes with endless duties which he undertook 
as the organizer and leading figure in several socie 
ties which flourished in the French colony of the city. 
Customers came readily to the little shop, for its 
proprietor was an able workman, despite certain 
agreeable eccentricities, and the business, growing 
steadily, provided an adequate, if simple, upbringing 
for Augustus and his two brothers. 

Many are the memories of those early days, mem- 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 123 

ories of a wholesome and normal boyhood. There are 
memories of fires, of street-fights with boys of other 
neighborhoods, of school-days, of a never-to-be-for 
gotten excursion to the country, of the delight of his 
first reading of " Robinson Crusoe," and of the famous 
actress Rachel playing "Virginia" in Niblo's Garden. 
And there are memories of boyhood loves, memories 
all that "pass across the field of my vision like ships 
that appear through the mist for a moment and dis 
appear." 

With the early end of his school days Augustus 
turned to the actual earning of his daily bread. He 
was thirteen years old. To his father's question as to 
what kind of work appealed most strongly to him he 
had answered, "I should like It if I could do some 
thing which would help me to be an artist." It was a 
decision that must have seemed strange to the father, 
who perhaps had seen in the boy a possible assistant 
In his growing business; but wisely he respected the 
desire that Augustus expressed, and a few weeks later 
the boy was apprenticed to a Frenchman named Avet, 
the first stone-cameo cutter In America. 

A cameo is a fine relief of a human head, or the head 
of &n animal, cut in a stone or shell, often so done as to 
show the design in a layer of one color with another 
color as a background. The stones, which were usu 
ally amethysts or malachite, were at that period ex 
tremely fashionable, and were worn in rings, or scarf- 
pins, or breast-pins by men and women. The work was 
fine and required skill and patience and artistic abil 
ity; so for a long time Augustus was limited to the 



124 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

preparation of the stones, which Avet would finish 
and later sell to the leading jewelers of the city. 

Avet was a hard taskmaster and the monotonous 
labor over the whirring lathe was irksome to the red- 
blooded boy, who looked up from the spinning-wheel 
at the white clouds sailing across the little window 
above him and heard the rumble of wheels and the 
hum of life in the distant street. But in his few hours 
of leisure there were glimpses of stirring events never 
to be forgotten. There was the excitement attending 
the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, 
"Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter." There was the re 
cruiting of troops for the great Civil War which for 
four long years racked the land. And later, from the 
window in front of his lathe, Saint-Gaudens watched 
the volunteers from New England as they tramped 
down Broadway, singing "John Brown's Body" a 
they marched. 

Day after day Saint-Gaudens ground and turned 
the stones on his lathe, and all day long he listened to 
the voice of Avet, scolding and swearing as he worked. 
One day came the breaking-point. At noon the boy 
had quietly eaten his luncheon from the little box 
which he brought each morning with him to his work. 
Some crumbs had fallen on the floor, and Avet, seeing 
them, burst into a fury and discharged him on the 
spot. Without comment he folded up his overalls, left 
the shop, and going at once to his father's store, ex 
plained exactly what had occurred. Within a few 
minutes Avet followed, apologetic and promising 
even more money if the boy would return. Without 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 125 

Hesitation Saint-Gaudens refused, and in later life he 
often recalled his father's "proud smile " as he made 
his decision. 

There is credit in sticking to a hard job, and there 
is equal credit in a manly refusal to continue to work 
under intolerable conditions. Saint-Gaudens's act 
brought its own reward, for his next employer, Mr- 
Jules le Brethon, a shell-cameo cutter, was a man 
unlike Avet in every particular, and it was through 
this new connection that the path to Saint-Gaudens's 
career as a sculptor was opened to him. 

With his characteristic foresight in availing himself 
of every opportunity, the boy had early begun to de 
vote his evenings to the study of drawing in the free 
classes at the Cooper Institute. Every day at six he 
left his work, and after a hurried supper, hastened to 
his classroom. He was appreciative of the great op 
portunity which the school afforded him, and he threw 
himself with all his soul into his work. "I became a 
terrific worker, toiling every night until eleven o'clock 
after the class was over. Indeed, I became so es> 
, hausted with the confining work of cameo-cutting by 
day and drawing at night, that in the morning mother 
literally dragged me out of bed, pushed me over to the 
washstand, where I gave myself a cat's lick somehow 
or other, drove me to the seat at the table, adminis 
tered my breakfast, and tumbled me downstairs out 
into the street, where I awoke." 

When the courses at the Cooper Union were finally 
accomplished, Saint-Gaudens took up new night work 
at the National Academy of Design, and it was here 



126 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

that his first appreciation of the antique came to him, 
and his first practice in drawing from the nude 
training so fundamental for his great work in coming 
years. 

Early in the year 1867 came another turning-point 
in his life. Ever since he had first begun to work," 
Saint-Gaudens had been giving his wages to his father 
to pay his share of the family expenses. And now the 
father, realising that the boy's earnestness and ability 
were deserving of every opportunity which he could 
afford, made the offer of a trip to Europe, where he^ 
might see the art of the older civilizations and return 
to the United States broadened by his experience and 
observations. 

Saint-Gaudens was nineteen years old. His father 
had paid for his passage in the steerage, and in his 
pocket were a hundred dollars which had been saved-. 
out of his wages. Arriving in Paris in a " mixed state 
of enthusiasm and collapse," he spent a few days vis 
iting in the household of an uncle, and then began his 
search of employment at cameo-cutting and of admis 
sion to the School of Fine Arts. Work was soon found 
in the establishment of an Italian., But entrance to 
the school was a more difficult proposition, and in or 
der that no time should be wasted while he was wait 
ing, he enrolled in a modeling school, working there 
mornings and nights and supporting himself on what 
he earned at cameo-cutting in the afternoon. 

These were days and nights of almost superhuman 
exertion, but at the end of a year the desired admis 
sion to the school was obtained, and his real educa- 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 127 

tion began. It is customary for a student at the 
Beaux-Arts to select the master in whose atelier he 
wishes to study, and Saint-Gaudens selected Jouffroy, 
whose pupils in the preceding years had been particu 
larly successful in capturing most of the prizes which 
were oifered by the school. 

Here Saint-Gaudens formed several friendships 
which endured throughout his life, and here also he 
began to mingle more widely with the men in the 
great world about him, although his time was far too 
occupied for more than an occasional hour or two of 
relaxation. "My ambition was of such a soaring na 
ture, and I was so tremendously austere, that I had 
the deepest scorn of the ordinary amusements of the 
light opera, balls and what not." And yet, when he 
did play, his play was of the hardest. He was active 
beyond measure, and it is doubtless to the hours of 
hard physical exercise which he got at night in the 
gymnasium and the swimming-baths, that he owed 
the health which gave him the endurance necessary 
for his long hours in the classroom. Occasionally, 
walking trips, with one or two companions, gave well- 
deserved vacations trips from which the walkers 
returned tired and penniless, but inspired by the 
beauty of nature in the pleasant French countryside 
and thrilled with the stupendous grandeur of the 
Alpine scenery. 

But now, in the year 1870, the dark clouds of the 
Franco-Prussian War suddenly gathered. War was 
declared. The streets of Paris were congested with 
shouting, marching crowds. The enlistment places 



128 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

were filled with men joining the colors. To the young 
American the problem of his own line of action seemed 
difficult to decide. Everything within him urged him 
to enlist under the flag of France. But he was a cit 
izen of another land, and aged parents awaited his 
return. He decided to withhold his decision. Once, in 
deed, he returned to Paris from Limoges fixed in his 
purpose to join his French companions; but there 
he found a letter from his mother, so pathetic that 
he reluctantly abandoned his intention, returned to 
Limoges, and a few months later started for Rome. 

After the cold, gray months of a Paris winter, and 
the misery and suffering of the war, the glowing 
warmth and beauty of the Holy City exhilarated and 
exalted him. "It was as if a door had been thrown 
wide open to the eternal beauty of the classical." 
Here, living almost in poverty, he continued the work 
so well begun in Paris. Here, also, he began the 
statue of Hiawatha, "pondering, musing in the forest, 
on the welfare of his people " the first of the long 
list of world-recognized masterpieces which the stren 
uous labor of his life produced. So poor, indeed, was 
Saint-Gaudens at this time, that it was only through 
the kindness of an American, who advanced him the 
money to cast the figure, that he was able to complete 
the work. For this same gentleman Saint-Gaudens 
modeled busts of his two daughters, and through him 
he also received a commission for copies of the busts of 
Demosthenes and Cicero. 

In Rome Saint-Gaudens also first made the ac 
quaintance of Dr. Henry Shiff, a comrade whose 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 129 

friendship lasted throughout his life. Shiff was con 
siderably the senior of Saint-Gaudens, but his deep 
appreciation of art and literature, and his frank, 
friendly nature endeared him to the young and strug 
gling sculptor, and gave him the inspiration that is al 
ways found in the true appreciation of a loyal friend. 

In 1872 Saint-Gaudens returned to New York; but 
his stay was brief, for he was eager to return to Italy 
for a few years more before definitely establishing 
himself in the United States. While in New York, 
much work was accomplished, but little of it should 
be included in a list of his works, for in the main it 
consisted of jobs of one sort or another necessary to 
earn the money which his living required. Here, 
however, he began his bust of Senator William M. 
Evarts, one of the foremost orators in the United 
States, and, during the years 1877 to 1881, Secretary 
of State in the administration of President Hayes. 
Then, also, he received a number of other commis 
sions for busts and, of particular importance, a com 
mission for a figure of Silence to be placed in a Masonic 
building in New York. It was a sudden and bewil 
dering amount of work for the young sculptor, and it 
brought vividly to him, after his struggling years of 
poverty in Europe, a realization of the appreciation 
and reward which the United States so freely offered. 

In 1875 Augustus Saint-Gaudens returned again to 
the United States, but this time to take his place as a 
full-fledged sculptor. Behind him were years of hard 
but fruitful experience. From the long period at 
which he had worked at his cameo-cutting he had 

10 



130 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

developed a keen eye and a sure hand with his tools. 
From Paris and Rome he had obtained the practice 
which he required in actual work from the human fig 
ure, and from Rome in particular he had learned 
"what to leave untouched" and had acquired "an 
ability to choose his subjects from among the import 
ant figures of the moment, and then to give his best 
efforts to transforming them into vital and eternal 
symbols." 

On his arrival in New York he rented a small stu 
dio in an old building, and was soon intensively occu 
pied in a life in which modeling, teaching, and study 
ing filled the long hours, and carried on often far into 
the night. Dark and depressing seemed the New 
York winter after the warmth and color of Italy; and 
to bring back more vividly the memory of the tink 
ling, splashing fountains that played in the Roman 
sunshine, he would turn on the water in the little 
wash-basin in his studio and let the gentle sound 
carry his thoughts back to the gardens of Rome. 

But now came two commissions which left no op 
portunity for thoughts of anything but the work in 
hand. From Governor Dix of New York came a com 
mission for a statue of Robert Richard Randall, a 
wealthy citizen of New York City in the early years of 
the nineteenth century, who had left his fortune for 
the founding of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, on Staten 
Island, a home for aged deep-sea sailormen. At the 
same time he obtained a commission for the statue of 
Admiral David G. Farragut, the first Admiral of 
the United States Navy, and the hero of Mobile Bay, 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 131 

which stands in Madison Square, New York. The 
importance of these commissions did much to raise 
the spirits and fire the ambition of Saint-Gaudens, 
and at the same time the constantly increasing friend- 
si lips which he was forming helped him to find the 
Happiness of congenial comradeship which his nature 
sought. " There is no doubt/ 3 he has written, "that 
my intimacy with John LaFarge has been a spur to 
higher endeavor"; and there were others who gave 
him similar inspiration by their warm appreciation 
of his ambitions. 

It was in the year 1877 that Saint-Gaudens took a 
principal part in the founding of the Society of Amer 
ican Artists. The establishment of this society was an 
important milestone in the progress of American art, 
for with it came a vital change in American painting 
and sculpture. Previously, art in the United States 
had been more or less burdened with conventions and 
a dull technique. But this stagnant state now be 
came stirred and freshened by the flood of a new gen 
eration of artists. Such men as Saint-Gaudens, East 
man Johnson, John LaFarge, Winslow Homer, and 
John S. Sargent began to remonstrate against the 
things that were. These men and their fellows had 
felt abroad the new movement in artistic apprecia 
tion. It was their desire to give to America this new 
and virile expression, and in spite of the opposition 
of the conservatists of the established school, the 
"old-timers," the new society received a welcome 
and became a constantly increasing factor and force 
in the development of American art. 



AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

A year was now spent in the modeling of a high 
bas-relief depicting the "Adoration of the Cross by 
Angels/ 7 which was to form the principal part of 
the interior decorations of St. Thomas's Church in 
New York, which were being designed by Mr. John 
LaFarge. This was important work and added 
greatly to Saint-Gaudens's reputation; but only the 
memory of its beauty remains, for the church was 
later destroyed by fire. 

In 1878 Saint-Gaudens again visited Paris, but this 
time his work and study held him there for three 
years. In a quiet studio which he hired in the Rue 
Notre Dame des Champs, work was begun on the 
Farragut statue, and also on a series of figures which 
were designed to ornament a mausoleum which Gov 
ernor Morgan of Connecticut had commissioned him 
to execute. It is a strange coincidence that the angels 
for the Morgan tomb were later destroyed by fire, as 
were the angels of St. Thomas's Church. 

"In the years I passed this time in Paris there was 
little of the adventurous swing of life that pervaded 
my previous struggles." Work on his commissions al 
most wholly occupied him. There were, however, oc 
casional excursions, and the presence of two friends, 
Stanford White and McKim, who were already win 
ning their reputation as brilliant New York architects, 
did much to break the tedium of his work. 

The Farragut statue was finally completed, and on 
the afternoon of a beautiful day in May, 1881, it was 
unveiled to the eyes of the public. In his "Remi 
niscences" Saint-Gaudens described this memorable 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 133 

occasion : " These formal unveilings of monuments are 
impressive affairs and variations from the toughness 
that pervades a sculptor's life. For we constantly 
deal with practical problems, with moulders, con 
tractors, derricks, stone-men, ropes, builders, scaf 
foldings, marble assistants, bronze-men, trucks, rub 
bish-men, plasterers, and what-not else, all the while 
trying to soar into the blue. But if managed intel 
ligently there is a swing to unveilings, and the moment 
when the veil drops from the monument certainly 
makes up for many of the woes that go towards the 
creating of the work. On this special occasion Mr. 
Joseph H. Choate delivered the oration. The sailors 
who assisted added to the picturesqueness of the pro 
cession. The artillery placed in the park, back of the 
statue, was discharged. And when the figure in the 
shadow stood unveiled, and the smoke rolled up into 
the sunlight upon the buildings behind it, the sight 
gave an impression of dignity and beauty that it would 
take a rare pen to describe." 

During the year 1877 Saint-Gaudens was married 
to Augusta F. Homer of Boston. Recognition had 
come to his work; his professional future seemed as 
sured. Now, by this happy marriage, domestic tran 
quillity and congenial companionship were added. 

On his return from Europe Saint-Gaudens took a 
studio on Thirty-Sixth Street in New York, and here 
were begun the Sunday afternoon concerts which soon 
became celebrated because of the literary men and ar 
tists who gathered there, and invitations were eagerly 
sought and highly prized. But in 1885 Saint-Gaudens 



134 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

moved from the city and established his family in an 
old Colonial house at Cornish, New Hampshire. "I 
had been a boy of the streets and sidewalks all my 
life/ 3 he says, "but during this first summer in the 
country, it dawned on me seriously how much there 
was outside of my little world/' Here was open coun 
try, a land of green hills and sky, a place where the 
man to whom beauty was a living thing might find 
widening inspiration. 

Of the many monuments which Saint-Gaudens 
created there are five which commemorate great he 
roes of the Civil War. The monument of Admiral 
Farragut has been mentioned; standing in the heart 
of the country's greatest city, it carries daily to the 
thousands who pass an unconscious inspiration as 
though treading the swinging deck of his flagship, the 
Admiral seems to look forward with a grim determina 
tion, inflexible, indomitable a man. 

The Shaw memorial was undertaken in 1884. The 
second of this historic series, Saint-Gaudens expected 
to complete it within a comparatively short time; but 
it was not until 1897 that the memorial was unveiled 
in Boston. Robert Gould Shaw was a young Bosto- 
nian who was killed in action while leading his regi 
ment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts a regiment 
of colored men led by white officers. The memorial is 
in the form of a large bas-relief. Although unfortu 
nately placed, it is one of Saint-Gaudens's most highly 
considered works. Across the relief the colored troops 
march to the drum beat; there is the rhythm of a pass 
ing regiment and a martial animation, but over all is 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 135 

a sense of melancholy; in the faces of the soldiers, 
the tense look of anticipation of the impending battle. 
Occupying the centre of the panel, Shaw rides beside 
his men, an expression of sadness on his youthful face. 
Above the scene floats a figure to which the master 
gave no name, but which his interpreters and pupils 
have called Fame and Death. 

During the early nineties Saint-Gaudens produced 
two more statues, both of which have been placed in 
the city of Chicago. In the equestrian monument to 
General Logan, Saint-Gaudens gave an indication of 
the greater statue, that of General Sherman, which 
was soon to follow. In the Logan monument he found 
a subject susceptible of broad interpretation. The 
general, mounted on a spirited 'charger, rides with 
the air of a conqueror. There is the " smell of the bat 
tlefield "in his face. The body seems a living thing, 
moving flesh and blood are incased in the wind-blown 
uniform. 

But in his statue of Abraham Lincoln, Saint-Gau 
dens reached the height of his art. Standing before 
the massive chair from which he seems to have risen, 
the tall, gaunt, ungainly figure embodies in its atti 
tude and in every hanging fold of the unfitted gar 
ments, the spirit of infinite tenderness, melancholy, 
and strength that characterized the great emancipa 
tor. Although the memory of Lincoln will endure as 
long as men live upon the earth, the Lincoln of Saint- 
Gaudens will ever recall to coming generations the 
plaintive sadness of this greatest of Americans. 

In the year 1887 General William Tecums^a Sher- 



136 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

man gave Saint-Gaudens eighteen sittings for a bust. 
Sherman had served with distinction in the Mexican 
War in 1846, and in May, 1861, at the outbreak of the 
Civil War, was appointed colonel of the Thirteenth 
U.S. Infantry. Rapidly promoted, he took part in 
many famous campaigns, and in 1864 became com 
mander of the military division of the Mississippi, 
Assembling in 1864 his three armies, comprising over 
one hundred thousand men, near Chattanooga, he be 
gan an invasion of the State of Georgia, and finally, 
with 60,000 picked men, made his celebrated "March 
to the Sea," from Atlanta to Savannah. The statue of 
Sherman was begun in 1890, but it was not until 1903 
that it was finally erected at the entrance of Central 
Park in New York City. Led by a symbolic figure 
of Victory, the general rides forward on his charger. 
A speaking likeness of Sherman, the statue at the 
same time seems infused with the spirit of the great 
struggle, a spirit of invincible determination. It is 
a monument which may be included among the 
great equestrian statues of the modern world. "His 
horse is obviously advancing, and Sherman's body, 
tense with nervous energy, is at one with the body 
beneath him, equally impressive of movement. The 
winged victory in every fibre quivers with the rhythm 
of oncoming resistless force." 

In the Rock Creek Cemetery near the City of 
Washington is a figure which is not only one of the 
greatest productions of Saint-Gaudens, but unques 
tionably his most imaginative composition. This is 
the memorial erected by Mr. Henry Adams to his 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 137 

wife. The figure is seated and concealed by a loose 
garment which half veils the face. Saint-Gaudens 
once spoke of the figure as symbolic of "The Mystery 
of the Hereafter; it is beyond pain, and beyond joy." 
Of this monument Henry Adams wrote to Saint- 
Gaudens: "The work is indescribably noble and im 
posing . . . it is full of poetry and suggestion, infinite 
wisdom, a past without beginning and a future with 
out end, a repose after limitless experience, a peace 
to which nothing matters all are embodied in this 
austere and beautiful face and form." 

The world now began to pour its offerings upon 
Saint-Gaudens. From Harvard University came the 
honorary degree of LL.D. and the tribute of Dr. 
Eliot, its president, who said in conferring it: "Augus 
tus Saint-Gaudens sculptor whose art follows but 
ennobles nature, confers fame and lasting remem 
brance, and does not count the mortal years it takes 
to mould immortal forms." Degrees from the Uni 
versities of Yale and Princeton followed his Harvard 
honor; at Paris in 1900 he was awarded the medal of 
honor, "and at Buffalo in the following year a special 
medal was bestowed upon him, an enthusiastic tribute 
from his fellow artists, who sought lovingly to exalt 
him above themselves as the one man they regarded 
as the master of them all." 

Together with these recognitions came others, of 
equal significance. In the late nineties he was made 
by the French Government an Officer of the Legion 
of Honor and a Corresponding Member of the Societe 
des Beaux-Arts, and later from the same source came 



i 3 8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

an offer to purchase certain of his bronzes for the Lux 
embourg Museum in Paris. In 1904 he was elected 
Honorary Foreign Academician of the Royal Acad 
emy of London, and among his other later distinctions 
may be included his memberships in the National 
Academy of New York and the Academy of St. Luke, 
Rome. 

Constantly he answered the call of Europe and 
found delight and profit in his travels; but the United 
States grew more dear to him with each passing year. 
"I belong in America," he wrote; "that is my home, 
that is where I want to be and to remain." But now 
the tireless energy of his early life began to show its 
mark on the vigorous vitality which had so long sup 
ported him. With his work, and congenial assistants 
and friends, he began to identify himself more closely 
with the simple life of his Cornish home. On the third 
of August, 1907, came the final episode in his memo 
rable career. A long illness attended by much suffer 
ing had failed to separate him from his work; carried 
to his studio to superintend the work of his assistants, 
he labored until the end. But his life was over, and 
as he had lived in a realm of spiritual beauty, so in 
the quiet peace of the New Hampshire hills his spirit 
passed. 

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, although of foreign birth 
and for many years, during the early period of his life, 
a resident abroad, " remained as distinctly American 
in his art as if he had come from a long line of native 
ancestors. He showed his Americanism in striking out 
in a totally new vein and making his own traditions." 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 139 

Of his art much has been written, but a few quota 
tions may suffice. "The special note of the medal 
lions which are conspicuous among his first produc 
tions is one of delicacy, and in the character of that 
delicacy lies a source of strength which was from first 
to last of immense service." His touch was "at once 
caressing and bold/ 9 and he delighted "in giving a 
clear, even forcible, impression of the personality be 
fore him. It is portraiture for the sake of truth and 
beauty, not for the sake of technique." In his work in 
the round, the Adams memorial stands as his "one 
memorable effort in the sphere of loftiest abstraction. 
His other greatest triumphs were won in the field of 
portraiture." In his studies of historical subjects, 
Saint-Gaudens "struck the one definitive note, made 
his Lincoln or Sherman a type which generations must 
revere and which no future statues can invalidate." 

"People think a sculptor has an easy life in a stu 
dio," he once said. "It's hard labor in a factory." 
And often he remarked, " You can do anything you 
please. It's the way it's done that makes the differ 



ence." 



Such was Augustus Saint-Gaudens. To him Amer 
ica afforded an opportunity; richly and many times 
over did he repay his debt to his adopted land. 



IX 
JACOB A. RIIS 

Born in Ribe, Denmark, 1849 
Died in Barre, Massachusetts, 1914 

THERE are many good citizens of the United States 
who can look back with pride to their Danish ances 
try. Denmark, that land of low-lying, storm-swept 
coasts, and level plains, has bred for centuries a race of 
hardy, freedom-loving people. It is only natural that 
America should hold out to them a promise of even 
greater opportunity and personal liberty. 

On the bleak coast of the North Sea is the little 
town of Ribe. There, in 1849, was born Jacob A. Riis, 
son of a schoolmaster and one of fourteen children. 
Scant were the means for the education and upbring 
ing of so large a family; but from this humble home on 
the Danish seacoast came a man who, in later years, 
was to become famous in the new land of his adoption : 
famous, not because of wealth or inventive genius, but 
for his citizenship, and for his deeds, which left the 
world better than he found it. 

There were no railroads or steamboats in Ribe in 
those days. It was as it had been almost for centuries. 
And yet Ribe took pride in its history: its people were 
a fighting race, fighters for honor and liberty, fighters 
for the little of peace and security that encroaching 
neighbors and unfriendly Nature had permitted them 



JACOB A. RIIS 141 

to have. They had fought back the Germans in 1849, 
as they had fought for their homes in years before. 
And every year, when the wind set in from the north 
west, they fought back the sea that rose up over the 
low beaches and flooded the land as far back as the 
eye could see. 

With such traditions and in such environment, it is 
small wonder that young Jacob grew to be a healthy, 
normal boy charged with ambition and energy. There 
was fighting blood in his veins, but it was the blood 
that rises and fights against oppression and for the 
right, and never for conquest or the subjection of the 
weak. 

It was the ambition of the father that Jacob should 
study for a professional career, but to the young boy, 
with his strong body and alert mind, the study of a 
trade appealed more keenly, and he was apprenticed 
for a year to a carpenter in the town. 

But before the year was done, the boy's ambition 
grew beyond the opportunities of the little town, and, 
with the consent of his family, he removed to Copen- 
' hagen to continue his apprenticeship under a great 
builder in that city. Four years were passed here, and 
during these years Jacob became proficient in his 
trade; but of even greater value were the opportuni 
ties for study which the Danish capital afforded him: 
study not only in books, but in men and in the obser 
vation of the life around him. 

One other thing drove his ambition steadily for 
ward. In Ribe was a fair-haired girl, the daughter of 
the wealthiest and most prominent citizen.. Wide was 



i 4 2 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

the social and financial gulf between the young and 
penniless carpenter and the young girl whom he de 
sired for his wife. To everyone but himself his hopes 
seemed almost ridiculous in their impossibility. He 
alone refused to accept defeat. If money was needed, 
he would make it. If Denmark could not offer him 
success, there was a land beyond the Atlantic that 
could. 

He was twenty-one years old. In his pocket were 
forty dollars. It was not much, either in years of ex 
perience or in wealth; but he had his trade to fall back 
on, and, above all, he had "a pair of strong hands and 
stubbornness enough to do for two; also a strong be 
lief that in a free country, free from the dominion of 
custom, of caste, as well as of men, things would some 
how come right in the end. 5 ' 

From the deck of the steamer he watched the city 
of New York grow large on the horizon. Ships of the 
world filled the blue harbor. Tall spires of churches 
lifted above the roofs; wharves were alive with activ 
ity. A static quality was in the air; he was filled with 
a spirit of adventure and limitless opportunity. 

In Castle Garden, at the tip of New York, where 
in years past the immigrants were landed, a man 
was hiring laborers in an iron-works at Brady's Bend 
in Pennsylvania. The pay seemed good, and Riis en 
gaged to join the party which was being formed. 

The work was hard, but Riis's knowledge of a trade 
stood him in good stead, and he was put at work build 
ing houses for the employees in the foundry. Then 
from a clear sky came news which abruptly changed 



JACOB A. RHS 143 

his plans and the course of his entire life. France had 
declared war on Prussia, and Denmark was expected 
to join with France and avenge her wrongs of 1864, 

Back to his memory came the love of his own coun 
try, of her flag, and of what seemed his duty there. 
His brain aflame with patriotism, he threw up his job 
and hurried to Buffalo, and from there proceeded 
finally to New York. He had just one cent in his 
pocket; he had sold his clothes and small possessions 
to buy his ticket. 

But the Frenchmen in New York did not under 
stand the young Dane who wanted them to send him 
home to fight if his country needed him; nor did those 
of his own countrymen whom he saw feel able to pay 
his transportation on this patriotic journey. Again 
and again young Riis oifered himself. At every at 
tempt rebuff or misfortune countered him. It was 
useless to try further. Reluctantly he abandoned his 
hope to join the French in their great struggle. 

Winter was at hand. To the scantily clad, starv 
ing, and penniless young man, the great city seemed 
to turn a cold and forbidding shoulder. But opportu 
nity does not come to those who wait expectant of it: 
it is a prize to be won by struggle, and often by priva 
tion. Opportunity is everywhere, but it is only the 
stalwart, indomitable spirits who seek and seize it. 

Hard days followed. From New York Riis went to 
Jamestown, a small village in the northern part of the 
state, and there he spent the winter doing such trivial 
jobs as fell to him, glad to receive the small and irreg 
ular pay which enabled him to struggle on. For a 



144 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

time he worked in a Buffalo planing-mill. Summer 
found him working with a railroad gang outside the 
city. Then came the winter again, and with it work 
at good wages in a Buffalo shipyard. Destined to be 
known throughout the United States in later years 
for his social reforms, and his virile writings for the 
betterment of his fellow men, in these early days it 
was his knowledge of an honest trade that made it 
possible for him to build the foundations of future 
greatness. 

Two years later Riis was back again in New York. 
Among the "want" advertisements, in a newspaper, 
his eye caught one which offered the position of city 
editor on a Long Island City weekly. The probabil 
ity that a position thus advertised would be of small 
value was confirmed by the salary attached to it. Riis 
got the position; the salary was eight dollars a week, 
and at the end of two weeks the paper failed. Three 
wasted years they seemed; three years of no accom 
plishment. ^ 

Then came the turning. A former acquaintance, 
casually met, mentioned a job that was open in a news- 
gathering agency. "It isn't much ten dollars a 
week to start with," he said. The brief two weeks' ex 
perience on the Long Island City paper had given 
Riis a slight familiarity with the requirements. In the 
shadow of Grace Church he prayed for strength to do 
the work which he had so long and so hardly sought. 
Beside him his dog, his only friend in these dark days, 
wagged his tail in encouragement. The die was cast. 
The next morning Riis presented himself at the of- 



JACOB A. RIIS 145 

fice of the New York News Association. The earnest-* 
ness of the young man appealed to the desk editor, 
and despite his shabby clothes and thin, worn face, he 
was engaged. From that time on the path broadened 
and mounted steadily upward. He had begun his ma 
jor lifework, a newspaper man. 

A winter of hard work followed, but Riis kept his 
head and left no stone unturned to take every ad 
vantage of his opportunity. By day he gathered news 
about the city; by night he studied telegraphy. In the 
spring he took another step forward, and his conscien 
tious work during the winter made it possible for him 
to meet the requirements of his post. 

Some South Brooklyn politicians had started a 
weekly newspaper. They needed a reporter. Riis 
packed his grip and crossed the river. The new job 
paid fifteen dollars a week. And two weeks later he 
was made editor and his weekly pay was advanced to 
twenty-five dollars. 

Then came another turning in the long, hard road. 
A letter from Denmark, from the little town of Ribe, 
from the fair-haired girl whom he had loved as a boy 
and for whom his love had grown through these lone 
some years, told him that she loved him. A few 
months earlier this letter would have found him desti 
tute, but now he was at the opening of his career. All 
things seemed possible. With redoubled enthusiasm 
he flung himself into his work. 

By thrifty living Riis had saved seventy-five dol 
lars. With this small sum and with notes for the bal 
ance, he bought the paper of which he was the editor. 
11 



146 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

He was determined to succeed. "The News was a big 
four-page sheet. Literally every word in it I wrote 
myself. I was my own editor, reporter, publisher and 
advertising agent. My pen kept two printers busy all 
week, and left me time to canvass for advertisements, 
attend meetings, and gather the news. I slept on the 
counter, with the edition for my pillow, in order to be 
up with the first gleam of daylight to skirmish for 
newsboys." 

Once, impressed by the fervor of a preacher, he de 
cided to throw up editorial work and take to preach 
ing. "No, no, Jacob," said the preacher, "not that. 
We have preachers enough. What the world needs is 
consecrated pens." 

That determined him, finally. He would pursue the 
vocation he had begun, but his pen would strive for 
the high ideal he had set before him. 

Local politics were corrupt, and Riis with his paper 
began a campaign for reform. He was offered bribes; 
politicians urged him to cater to them for the rewards 
they could offer. Then, when nothing else could move 
him, they turned to violence. One cold winter night a 
gang of roughs called at his office. Riis was working 
late. One of the roughs, chosen by the others, entered 
the office with a club. A minute later Riis flung him 
through the front window of the office into the street. 
That ended the trouble. 

In a few months Riis had paid in full the price of the 
newspaper and had established it firmly on its feet. 
But the months of cruel work had had their effect on 
him. He was badly overstrained. He needed a rest. 



JACOB A. RIIS 147 

The doctors urged it. He knew they were right. With 
characteristic rapidity of determination, he sold the 
paper for five times what it had cost him, and with a 
snug sum in his pocket took the ship for Denmark to 
claim his bride. 

It was no easy life in America to which he brought 
back his young wife. But in their small home they 
found in each other a peace and inspiration that made 
all things possible. 

Eager always to try his hand at something new, 
Riis purchased a stereopticon and experimented with 
it in such small time as was left from his long day of 
newspaper activity and his domestic cares. It was to 
play a large part in his later life. "No effort to add in 
any way to one's stock of knowledge is likely to come 
amiss in this world of changes and emergencies, and 
Providence has a way of ranging itself on the side 
of the man with the strongest battalions of resources 
when the emergency does come." 

For a long time after the sale of the Brooklyn paper 
Riis had tried to get a foothold on one of the New 
York dailies. His persistence was again rewarded and 
the position of a reporter on the Tribune was opened 
to him. Soon after came the recognition of his earnest 
and conscientious work in the form of an appointment 
to represent his paper at Police Headquarters. It was 
a hard and dangerous job, which required cool nerve 
and indefatigable energy. But of greater importance 
than the money that it paid, or the honor of the ad 
vancement, was the opportunity it afforded the young 
reporter to study at first-hand the conditions in which 



I 4 8 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

men and women lived in the congested tenements of 
the city a study which placed at his hand the 
knowledge which later enabled him to become the 
champion of the slums. 

The police reporter on a newspaper gathers and 
writes all the news that means trouble to someone 
the fires, suicides, murders, and robberies. The Trib 
une office was in Mulberry Street, opposite Police 
Headquarters. All the rival newspapers had offices in 
the neighborhood, and among the reporters there was 
keen rivalry for news. Naturally, the police did not 
help, for to be "news" it must be discovered before it 
reached Police Headquarters, when all would know of 
it* Friendships and detective skill were important 
factors. Each reporter tried to be the first to get the 
news, write it up, and get it to his paper. There was 
lively competition among the reporters, for the man 
who got the news in print first had a "scoop" on his 
rivals. 

Out 01 this busy life of the newspaper man, Riis 
now began to develop that interest which soon domi 
nated his very existence; for from his daily contact 
with the daily life of the city slums he drew the inspira 
tion to do his small part to better the conditions of 
the lives of those around him. Small as were his first 
efforts, there was soon inspired a veritable crusade in 
the soul of the Danish-American. Not as a newspaper 
reporter, not because he won his livelihood in the face 
of every difficulty, but because of his unselfish interest 
in his fellow men is Jacob Riis great among Americans. 
One day he picked up a New York paper and saw 



JACOB A. RIIS 149 

that the Health Department reported that during the 
past two weeks there had been a "trace of nitrates" 
in the city water. For months cholera, the dreaded 
scourge that comes from impure water and has, in the 
life of the world, killed more people than all the bat 
tles, had threatened the city. Riis investigated. The 
water supplying two million people must be pure. 
"Nitrates" were a sign of sewage contamination. 
The city was threatened, and no one seemed to real 
ize the danger. The humble investigations of the 
newspaper reporter were to produce far-reaching 
results. 

Riis wrote an article that day for the Evening Sun y 
and advised the people to boil the water before drink 
ing it. Then, with a camera in his hand, he spent a 
week following to its source every stream that dis 
charged into the Croton River. He found evidence 
enough: town after town discharged its sewage into 
the water which supplied New York City; people 
bathed in it; cities dumped refuse into it. With exact 
details, and the evidence illustrated with photographs, 
he returned. 

The city was saved. So strong was the evidence 
that over a million dollars was promptly spent by the 
city to guard the water-supply. The real public-serv 
ice life of Riis had begun. 

In 1884, an awakened interest in the housing condi 
tions in the tenement districts came to a head with 
the establishment of the Tenement-House Commis 
sion. It brought out the fact that the people living in 
the tenements were "better than the houses." Riis 



i S o AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

worked heart and soul for the cause. Four years later 
the reform was assured, with the backing of such men 
as Dr. Felix Adler and Alfred T. White. The Alder 
Tenement-House Commission was formed. 

Now Riis turned to other conditions which cried 
aloud for reform. The "Bend" in Mulberry Street 
and the Police Lodging-Room system needed him. 
The "Bend" was a crowded slum that for a half-cen 
tury had been the centre of vice and misery. Riis 
aroused the community, and in 1888 a bill was intro 
duced in the Legislature to wipe it out bodily. To- 
'day, a city park, a breathing-place and playground 
marks the site. 

The Police Lodging-Room was another civic dis 
grace and a breeder of crime. In these vile and filthy 
rooms the Police Department gave night lodging to 
thousands of vagrants. The idea sounds well enough, 
but the system was wrong, and Riis realized it. In 
these foul quarters young men lodged with profes 
sional beggars and criminals, and learned the ways of 
vice; in these rooms was bred disease, physical as well 
as moral. Riis warned the city through his paper. 
Then his prophecies came true: typhus broke out in 
the Police Lodging-Rooms. 

Slowly the force of Riis's newspaper articles made 
headway. One by one the rooms were closed. The 
Committee on Vagrancy was formed, of which Riis * 
was a member; and the same year Theodore Roose 
velt, later to be President of the United States, was 
appointed Police Commissioner. That was the end. 
The reform was accomplished* For the deserving 



JACOB A. RIIS 151 

poor, decent quarters were provided; the professional 
vagrants left the city. 

In the gloom and dirt of the crowded tenements 
the souls of little children were shrunk and dwarfed. 
Riis was their crusader. Through his paper he ap 
pealed for flowers flowers from those who came 
each day to the city from the country; flowers for "sad 
little eyes in crowded tenements, where the summer 
sunshine means disease and death, not play or vaca 
tion; that will close without ever having looked upon 
a field of daisies." 

And the flowers came. Express wagons filled with 
them crowded Mulberry Street; people brought them 
in great armfuls. Little children, slovenly women, and 
rough men smiled and were glad. Riis brought God's 
country to Mulberry Street. 

Then he turned his attention to the problem of 
child labor in the "East Factories" of New York. 
Only children over fourteen could be employed. But 
as there was no birth-registry, it could not be proved 
that thousands of little children quite evidently years 
under age were working there. Riis studied the prob 
lem. He found that certain teeth do not appear until 
the child is fourteen. He went to the factories and 
examined the children's teeth. His case was proved. 
With such evidence a committee was appointed and 
a correction of the wrong was begun. 

"The Public School is the corner-stone of our liber 
ties." The public schools of New York were crowded, 
the buildings were old, unsanitary, badly lighted, and 
many were actually dangerous fire-traps; dark base- 



152 AMERICANS BY ADOPTION 

ments were used for playgrounds. There was in the 
whole city but one school with an outdoor playground. 
Worse yet, there were thousands of children who did 
not go to school at all, and of those who did, condi 
tions made truants of many. 

Riis enlisted for this new battle. He took photo 
graphs, and gave lectures showing slides made from 
his photographs, and he wrote constantly in the news 
paper. Slowly the playgrounds came, and modern 
school-buildings more adequate to house the city's 
youth. 

It is an endless list of public-service activities. In 
stigated by this foreign-born American, the reform of 
the greatest American city was begun and carried far 
along its way. Unfit tenements were torn down, parks 
and playgrounds were established, the whole school- 
system was remodeled, the old over-crowded prison 
was condemned and a modern one erected, the civil 
courts were overhauled; there was no end to his war 
fare on conditions which brought death and misery to 
the city's poor. 

A writer for a newspaper by vocation, Jacob Riis 
found in his pen a strong power in his battles for re 
form. Throughout the latter years of his life he con 
tributed frequent articles to magazines, and in 1890 
published a book which alone will long make men re 
member the vital purpose of his life. How the Other 
Half Lives tells by its title its message to the world; it 
is the Golden Rule reduced to modern terms. 

"I hate darkness and dirt anywhere, and naturally 
want to let in the light ... for hating the slum, 



JACOB A. RIIS 153 

what credit belongs to me?" Unselfish, giving his all 
to the common cause, Jacob Riis is of the noble band 
of great Americans. As he lived, so he died, relatively 
a poor man. But poor only in worldly goods; for in 
the peace of his home and the love of wife and chil 
dren he found a priceless wealth that gold can never 
buy. Many were his chances to profit by his work, 
but his creed was to give rather than to receive. 

There were worldly honors that he received. There 
was the golden cross presented to him by King Chris 
tian of Denmark, and there were other recognitions to 
be found in the friendship and respect of the foremost 
citizens of the United States. But of all honors, the 
greatest was the affection of the thousands whom he 
helped a little nearer to the light, for whom he had 
opened windows in their souls. 

No better advice has been given than this: "As to 
battling with the world, that is good for a young man, 
much better than to hang on to somebody for sup 
port. A little starvation once in a while, even, is not 
out of the way. We eat too much, anyhow, and when 
you have fought your way through a tight place, you 
are the better for it. I am afraid that is not always the 
case when you have been shoved through." 




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